Friday, February 29, 2008

Daily events

Sad news. Another girl close to my daughter's age in her homeschool gymnastics class is quitting. The other girls haven't been there lately, and they are much older so now I'm in a quandary over what to do. There is a 4:30 class with girls her age, but that is right before dinner. To translate, that's when I'm sprinting to get dinner going. She was also saying she'd rather switch to swimming, and the swimming class would be that much later (dinnertime). It seems nothing is easy. So perhaps we'll stay in the homeschool gymnastics class for another month and then switch her into swimming. That would still be in the morning but out of flu season.

I have been really surprised at how well my boys are settling into doing their workbooks lately. Even when they complain, they still get it done with minimal fuss. If I can manage to get them to slow down a little (esp. S-man), they tend to get most of it right. Always before, we did lots of group work/white board work because they fought me so hard on workbooks. It seems the boys are growing up. I think I recently commented on that; if so, my apologies for repeating it.

Shaundra lives to go outdoors so she has always been good about doing her workbooks unless she thinks she can slip outdoors unseen. Today she built a house and garden in the backyard by shaping fallen limbs around just so. My husband has dragged most of them back to the corner, but everything is far too wet to try cutting them up.

This year, we need to get the piles of longer lengths cut up so we only have one size of logs---stove size. I think my husband wants to build a woodshed so we aren't having to tarp the wood during the winter. Given that we get a fair amount of wind, that would be very nice.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Literature group and Internat'l Fair

Today is sunny and warm at least inside the windows where the sun streams in. The kids are feeling better (the boys were sick and in bed yesterday), and all the kids were focused on their homework. They are all outside having recess to celebrate.

Shaundra was the only one able to go to the literature group and show their travel brochure for the book My Father's Dragon. S-Man had drawn a map with various "amusement park-type" rides taken from the ideas in the book. It was very creative and a big hit with the boys in the group, especially Bubblegum Patch. It was an enjoyable time. J-Dawg and S-Man, unfortunately, were home sleeping. You know he's sick when S-Man lays quietly. He is very active normally.

After lunch, we're headed to the library for more materials on Argentina. I'm debating buying a map, but I think a salt-dough map would be a lot more fun. I've never actually done one, and I feel deprived! :-) I know the kids would enjoy it more! We have to put together a display for an International Fair next week.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Qualifications for homeschooling? Help!

I've made reference to this before, but I want to pose a question to homeschoolers out there. In the last several months, I have had some non-homeschoolers ask me if I think a particular person should homeschool. The ones I really try to answer are those who are genuinely concerned.

I confess I hate it when I'm asked if I think somebody is equipped to "do it." That feels like they are asking me to pass judgment on someone else. I feel like saying, "That not my job! I'm not that wise!" I also get a little sick at the implication that the next unasked question (at least in these cases) is whether or not they should be a parent. I also wonder who made me the "expert" especially when I feel so un-expert.

So help me be a little more expert. Are there some practical "qualifications" for homeschooling? I don't believe a 4-year teaching degree is a qualification because I have one of those and truly feel that piece of paper was junk. I have no idea where my teaching certification went, nor have I ever cared. The main part of my degree took more effort so it represents far more to me. Between you and me, I think my outside-of-school experiences were far more important. I guess my major qualifier is how committed the parent is to the education of their children because that will take most of their time and attention from day one. I also think a supportive spouse is essential for many reasons, not the least of which is financial. I could not/would not homeschool if my husband needed/wanted me to work outside the home.

Enough of me---What have you found to be the most important and most used qualities you have or have developed or are working on to be a successful homeschooler? When someone asks your advice about homeschooling, what do you tell them? What do you tell third-party folks when they ask you about someone else's ability to homeschool, and let's assume they are really concerned. What do you say to those who have no confidence in homeschooling and homeschoolers?

And now I'll lay it to rest and let it stop bothering me!

My Father's Dragon

Today we finished reading My Father's Dragon for a literature group tomorrow. Cute book, and I've never heard of it before. (It's a Newberry Honor book. Shame on me!) My kids drew a map of the Wild Island with "tourist" attractions and then proceeded to act it all out. If there is anything my kids do excellently, it is enjoy themselves to the hilt!

So now we have their travel brochure ready to share tomorrow. I have no idea what others will come up with---I hope my kids enjoy it and have fun sharing theirs with the other kids. This is the first time we have done something and shared it with a group in two years. Hopefully all the kids will feel good. My one son (we'll call him Twin A---he was Baby A in the hospital) isn't feeling too terrific tonight.

Actually, their exhibit isn't all done. Their dad made a color copy for the front cover and left it at work. So . . . first thing in the morning. . . . :-)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Merit badge race

My kids were working on their Boy Scout Citizenship in the Nation merit badge, and one of the requirements was to read 5 days worth of the front page news and discuss it with their counselor. Now that we have finished, I would highly recommend using something other than the Wall Street Journal. That's the paper we take so that's the paper we used, but it was probably a little more difficult than they were ready for. They read each article several times and still didn't really understand it. The dictionary got quite a workout though! Next time, we'll stick with the evening news. Sound bites would probably have been much easier!

Of course, they also pushed it off to the last day so today was the day. They had been researching a national monument as well, but they hadn't written their reports. I helped one with the presentation of the Jefferson Memorial (we did a lap book), but my other son wasn't able to finish his. Too bad because he actually had done more research! We simply ran out of time. (Literally! I was doing about 70 mph up the driveway to the house where the lock in was being held. It was kind of fun to speed through like that though. LOL) Long driveway. The good part is that I don't think they will wait for the last day again!

I'm off to figure out what time I need to pick the boys up. Somewhere around 11 or 12 tonight, I think.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I just added the link to my husband's lunar eclipse pictures below.

Is there only one right way?

I just made cinnamon breadsticks today. They sounded yummy and my kids were thrilled with the accompanying hot chocolate! While I was making them, the sun broke out of the clouds. Woot! That wasn't in the forecast, but I'll take it!

I love to bake bread. Nothing spells comfort food to me like homemade, hot bread. The best part about bread though is that you can't really ruin it. It might turn out differently at times, but unless it is irreparably burned, it will work out. (I have burned it to a brick and found that the center was still tender and good.) I've even forgotten to add the yeast and kneaded it in at the last minute, and it still worked! I also love to bake different kinds of breads, including everything from sweet breads to 100% whole wheat bread. I have used hundreds of recipes over the years, and most were approved by my family.

In the last 2 weeks, I have heard a lot of comments like the one I got yesterday regarding another family who was thinking about homeschooling. The well-meaning woman said, "Well, I hope the state has something in place to make sure they do it right." Interesting thought, that. I couldn't help the thought that ran through my mind: "Do you mean the way Missouri does it, or Kentucky, or maybe Washington or California (her home states)? Perhaps you mean the free Mexican (from Mexico) curriculum Oregon is using for U.S. History or the history books that have been rewritten to eliminate references to deity?"

Back to my bread: there is no one recipe that everyone likes all of the time, but they all work. They all accomplish the same goal of making bread or tossed out if they don't. Just because one recipe works does not mean everyone should do it that way. That would be boring!

So why is it that some public school parents and teachers (and as Mrs. Darling tactfully pointed out, homeschoolers too) are so positive that their way is the only way to educate children? Especially when it is so doggoned hard to throw out that which is not working like I have sometimes done with bread dough and curriculum? Or is it that we all need to feel validated by others doing as we do? Wouldn't it be ever so much better if we could just support each other even if we would do it differently?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar eclipse

We were so excited tonight to watch the complete lunar eclipse. The forecast was chancy, but we were sure hoping! Unfortunately, we had complete and thick cloud coverage.

While at Scouts, I chanced to talk to a mother who commented they could see the moon on their way to the church, so we headed north out of town instead of home after Scouts was over.

About 8:45, I gave up finding the moon and turned around. There in front of us was the most beautiful red sky I've ever seen (especially at night!) The moon was solidly covered by clouds, but apparently it cast enough of a glow that the clouds reflected the light for us. It was breathtaking!

I didn't have my camera, but I don't think I'll forget it. I hope my kids won't either. My husband saw a partial eclipse in Vegas before clouds covered it, and he'll be posting pics from there soon.

P.S. I added a comment about cod liver oil under that post.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A real blog post!

Here's a link of pictures my husband has taken.

The kids went to a class sponsored by the Missouri Society of Engineers and learned about building bridges. Hubby got it loaded on his computer, but it bogged down on mine. He’s still trying to figure out why since we both run Windows Vista.

The boys will be viewing the lunar eclipse tomorrow night at Scouts. Way cool! They have been drawing the moon for the last several nights in preparation for their merit badge lock in on Friday. Hopefully the weather will cooperate on both nights!!!!!! We need temperate weather; no clouds. No ice!!! They are also working on a paper about a national monument. That’s not going so well. They aren’t too impressed with the need. :-( (Citizenship in the Nation merit badge)

Hubby fixed the electical outlet for the computer . . . and shorted out half the living room! Apparently they wired the office area and half the half the living room in a series from the office outlet. Hubby’s not a swearing man, but it was close! We have a new floor lamp that is plugged into the only outlet still working. It throws off enough light for the room, thankfully, and it’s between the chair the kids use to read in and the piano. Let's just say, "Hello electrician!" Argh! One more reason to build our own home.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Something to listen to

Here's a site to check out:

Listen to a very personal Teleconference Call where Carol tells why 2007 was so hard for so many..& why that is changing…

I don't know how long this will be available for free, so go check it out. Scroll down a little to where you'll see a box with the above phrase.

Culinary delights?

The UPS man brought me a small box today filled with the following items:

cod liver oil

I have recently learned about the joys of coconut oil, like how it eliminates sunburn if you put it on every day or so. No more sunscreen needed! Also, it is high in Omega 3s. The label says it is “Ideal as a high-heat cooking oil (up to 350 degrees), as a nutritious substitute in baking, as a “better-than-butter” replacement on bread, vegetables, or popcorn, and as a luscious oil for skin care, hair care, and massage.” Love that word “luscious.” Conjures up great images. Oh, and for a fraction of the price at this site.

The label also suggests, “Chop up a variety of vegetables. . . . Place these in a metal or bamboo steamer and add some dried herbs. Steam the vegetables till they’re done and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and add a few tablespoons of Nutiva Coconut Oil . . . (delicious and rich in protein and Omega-3) Serve and enjoy!” Don’t forget to use the Nutiva. I’m sure it won’t taste the same otherwise! LOL

I just received this quote, and thought it was really neat and very fitting.

"The Lord gave us parents to help us through at least three of those stages-in infancy to care for our babyhood needs; in childhood to
provide us with direction, food, clothing, and a home; in adolescence to counsel us and prepare us for adulthood. The Lord is all-wise. It was he who gave us parents. It was he who made them our guardians. He is our parent himself-our Father in Heaven. Should we pit our wisdom against his? Then let us fit into his plan of salvation: His way of life provides for happy home life, for loving care from parents, for a willingness on the part of young people to
be taught, and for a partnership of parent and child leading to the eventual success of the child." (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 116)

Tired of workbooks

For the last couple of weeks, we have been doing what seems to be nothing but workbooks. It started with me not feeling well, continued with my finger having minor surgery, and ended with me being lazy.

I think today is about enough. Time for something new.

The kids have actually been really good about it, and they are getting into the routine of "paperwork". Excitement is lacking, but basic skills are improving. So it has been good. Sort of.

I think we'll be doing some science experiment tomorrow. I found a book, called Science Experiments You Can Eat, by Vicki Cobb, that I think looks fun. The title pretty much says it all. In my world of boys' hunger all the time, it could be a good thing!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Scam alert

Sorry to bug any readers with this, but I was just notified of this scam. If you should receive anything like this, just delete it.

Current Internet Scam Uses Amway Name

Emails from Amway Children Charity Foundation fraudulent.

Quixtar is strongly encouraging all IBOs to be aware that there is a currently circulating Internet scam that is using the Amway name in an effort to appear valid. As part of this scam, people may receive unsolicited emails from a group billed as the "Amway Children Charity Foundation."

The Amway Children Charity Foundation is not an Amway-sanctioned program. The name, program, and people mentioned in the emails are in no way related to Amway, and do not have Amway's authority or support in their endeavours. We would ask that you share this information with your friends, family, and associates. In addition, should you receive an email from this group, we would encourage you to delete it immediately and under no circumstances reply to it.

This scam has circulated throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. In an attempt to minimize the potential damage that this scam may cause, the Corporation has issued a press release throughout the North American media network and has advised the Better Business Bureau. We are also currently working with authorities to investigate the origin of the scam.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ice all gone

Gorgeous weather today! Slight breeze, bright sun, warm air. Ice gone! Woot! Puddles left behind.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ice storm

We were touched relatively lightly by the latest ice storm. A few broken branches, but if it all continues to melt, we'll be fine! Others didn't fare quite so well. A house up the road has broken branches all over their yard. The nice part is that many folks were better prepared this year than last year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Answer to a prayer

I just received an email that about made me cry. I have put out a notice via an email group I'm in advertising a reading group I'm forming for my daughter. I got one taker immediately, and another telling me about a group that already exists. Can I just tell you what a relief that is to me? I would be willing to form my own group, but to already have a larger group ready brings indescribable relief to my heart.

God is good, and he answers prayers on a most dismal looking day. (Yucky sounding crashes through the night from ice-laden trees, a few branches on the ground, and not sunny out. But there is no more rain!!!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Good idea and new reality

Here's a good idea I ran across via How to Change the World. How cool is that!

Here we are at Monday, and I am gearing up to make a reading guide for my boys' history reading.

I am also gearing up to send my daughter to school next year.

The first task excites me more than the second. The school idea is going to have a serious impact on our lives. We had been talking about going to see family this fall, but I don't think 3-4 weeks off from public school will go over very big. The boys will be mowing lawns this summer and doing everything Scouting so this summer won't work either. Neither will a spring vacation because my daughter needs to take the standardized test this May. So far, losing her gymnastics class hasn't phased her. Shucks.

Sigh. We have truly been spoiled.

P.S. We've got about a half inch of ice pellets and thunder outside. Hot chocolate, anybody?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


One very good thing happened the other night. I "rediscovered" some English, reading, and language arts materials that I've had but had discontinued using. The reason? My kids were kicking hard against workbooks. They hated them!

I had to buy my daughter a new language arts workbook, but something has changed. Dragon Boy is the only one who really kicks about doing them now. But then, he doesn't like being told what to do. Even at that, after his routine complaints, he settles in to completing his assigned pages. Woohoo!

This is really good news because I've been having a tough time emotionally this last week. Between being sick and being super concerned over the primaries, I've had a rocky ride! So having to create my own program from scratch was not the best news I've had for awhile. There are some things we will be doing that I'm putting together, but it's nice to have these workbooks for right now. The boys are using the Abeka Language books. Shaundra is using one I picked up at Barnes and Noble. I might get her a new Abeka one too.

By next week, I'll be more together again to begin more diagramming and preparing copywork. For now, I'm going easy on myself.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Tuesday

If you are in a state that is having their primary tomorrow (Tuesday), please go vote!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I'm making up my own---finally!

I'm starting a new language arts program tomorrow. My own. The ones I have used haven't satisfied me. That, and I don't do well with scripted materials. I tend to become impatient if they don't get it in the page it gives. I'm probably not presenting it right, but I really need to cut down on "known" frustrations. I keep thinking I ought to be able to create something on my own---English is my field and my love. I should have done this from the very beginning, but the idea of creating my own was frightening. I'm not intimidated any more though.

My program will include the usual copywork and sentence diagramming, but from favorite scriptures. I'll be searching for some simple sentences tonight! It has been awhile since we have done any diagramming so I think review is in order!

I also realized that we haven't been doing much read-aloud since Christmas, what I call Mom-read. I think we might pick up Julius Caesar. They just watched the BBC reenactment of it and didn't get a bunch of it. I don't know if my daughter will stay interested, but the boys are getting older so maybe short bits every day will work. Then they will get to rewrite lines to make them their "own" so to speak. Nothing like copying Shakespeare's works to learn to be a better writer!

I'm not through figuring this out! In fact, I've only begun really thinking it through, and figuring out what will make it fun but also maximize their learning the English language better. Most importantly, my children will hopefully learn to write well and find out it is fun! Therein lies the tweaking!!!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Beautiful Friday

Today is a beautiful day! The sun is out, the roads are clear, and it's a little warmer than the past several days. The pretreatment they gave the roads last night in preparation for the second "wind" of the snowstorm paid off, and the roads cleared up very nicely. Last night, it snowed solidly, leaving about 2 - 3 inches of snow on the roads. Coming home from the library was iffy because I didn't know if it was slippery and frankly, didn't care to find out. Very little traffic was out though so it was no big deal.

This morning, the kids took turns working on the computer and practicing the piano, and then they begged to watch William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Then off to taekwondo for the boys and then my daughter begged to shovel the driveway (and the yard it turns out.) Gotta love it! I love Fridays!

Help me give my daughter a "blog name". She's cute, she's fun, and she wants to be like Mom one minute and like her brothers the next. Oh, yes, she has her daddy wrapped around her little finger---all to the good! Did I mention she is helpful? She is.