Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Cinnamon Bear

Whether you homeschool, or just have kids, if you haven't checked out the Homeschool Radio Shows, you should! This weeks freebie, as well as the continuing freebie for the past three Tuesdays on the The Homeschool Freebie of the Day website was The Cinnamon Bear.

The Cinnamon Bear is the adventures of Judy and Jimmy, twin brother and sister, who go into their attic to find their Christmas Star to go on top of their tree. While looking for their Christmas Star, they meet the Cinnamon Bear who is only four inches tall. He teaches them how to de-grow and then takes them to Maybe Land to chase after the Crazy Quilt Dragon who he saw steal their Christmas Star.

This is a wonderful 1930's radio drama. There is magic and a witch, but she is one of those classic witches who is green and afraid of seeing herself in a mirror. There is also Santa Claus and Jack Frost, who my children have always been taught the truth about...that they are made up. Ellie and Wyatt know the true story of St. Nicholas and that his legend has been adopted into what is now know as Santa Claus. Anyway, the story is that of your wildest imagination, and totally fun!

We downloaded the episodes in three parts each week on the Homeschool Freebie of the Day. The Erskine Family, who run both sites, suggested listening to one episode each day till Christmas, as there are 26 episodes. We couldn't wait though! We were so glad we weren't listening to the show back in the 1930s where we'd have to wait until the radio show was on again!

There is also a free coloring book download which is wonderfully illustrated by one of the Erskine's daughters. We have a comb-binder on loan from my parents, so I printed out and bound up coloring books for both of my kids. Ellie enjoyed the coloring book from the start, but Wyatt didn't act like he wanted me to put his together the first day. Well, the second week, he did want his bound up. I ended up printing three more coloring books for him that day. Ellie is my art girl, she can always be found with art supplies...drawing, coloring, painting. Wyatt has to really like something to get into art. Well, he LOVED the Cinnamon Bear coloring book! He colored all four Cinnamon Bear coloring books in one day!

So, if you haven't checked out those websites, click on the highlighted above. You should be able to download the Cinnamon Bear radio show and coloring book until Sunday, December 20, 2009. Merry Christmas!

Science Secrets

I'll be honest, Science was not my subject during most of my school years. I did enjoy Chemistry in high school and college, and the general science class I had to take in college (it covered history, astronomy, physics, seemed like everything). Anyway, I've said before that my kids love Science, so that is a challenge for me in homeschooling.

I've been blessed the last year and a half to assist my friend, Colleen, in the Science classes she teaches at our co-op. Science just comes naturally for her. She has given me lots of great ideas.

This last week at co-op, I assisted in the Jr. High/High School Anatomy class where she told the kids about laminin. If you aren't familiar with laminin, basically, it's the stuff that holds humans together. Do a search for "laminin". You can check out the pictures of laminin by clicking here. Laminin looks like a cross. She told the kids that although God wants us to believe in Him and take Him on faith, He leaves us evidence of His existence (sometimes) in the smallest places.

Co-op was last Friday, so all of that was still in my mind when the kids and I enjoyed a wonderful live online Science class Monday, Astonishing Atoms. The class was put on by Science Jim, through Currclick. This was a free class, but nonetheless full of content, so that you could get an idea of what to expect in a Science Jim class. In case you're interested, there is another free class on December 22! We signed up for this class a while back, but didn't receive our link to the class for some reason. This time we had no problems.

So, Science Jim was explaining that there are basically two things that everything is made up of: matter and energy...and they are basically the same thing (E=Mc2...thanks, Mr. Einstein!). Then he explains about atoms. Well, I learned about atoms in school, they have a proton, electron, and neutron; atomic number 1 has one of each. I never thought of this before, but my mind was in the right place thanks to Colleen, that an atom is a great example or way to understand the triun (trinity) of God. An atom, unimaginably tiny atom, has three parts to make up the whole atom: proton, neutron, and electron. Our God, unfathomably immense, has three parts to make up the whole: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One of the kids in the class asked where atoms come from. Science Jim was very good to say that people have different beliefs about how things began (I appreciate this, rather than pushing your views on others, even if they might be the same), but that atoms have always been in existence, since the beginning. Also, atoms never "die" or go away, they are kind of recycled. Which I think is a good comparison, too. God has always been and He never really goes away. I love that.

Science Jim wanted to "blow our minds" with his figures. He did succeed in blowing minds at our house. When he explained how vast things would have to be to make a scale model of an atom where we could see the nucleus with our unaided eyes...wow! If you want to know what he told us, you should attend his class! I think this is a class that any age would enjoy (unless you've learned it all already).

Christmas Caroling

Sunday evening the whole family went Christmas Caroling with a large group from our church. This was very different from Christmas Caroling we'd done in the past. Growing up the only place we ever Christmas Caroled was with my school honor choir a the local old folks (retirement) homes. The kids and I had went Christmas Caroling with a local homeschool support group, two years in a row.

This year we went out door Christmas Caroling! And we even got Thomas to go! The experience was a bit similar, because the neighborhood across from our church is retirement housing! How funny. You get more of a range of ages in retirement housing though.

There were a few people I think were home that didn't come to the door. There were a few people who came to the door that were reluctant to answer or stay for very long. There were at least a dozen people who came to the door that were very happy to see us, smiled, stayed to listen, even thanked us, and wished us a Merry Christmas. We had a very nice time. The temperature even cooperated; it was a balmy 40 degrees. Well, balmy compared to the Tuesday before we the temperature was about 14 degrees.

At one point, Ellie went with the pastor and part of the group, we turned and went with the leaders of our caroling group. I was just going to get Ellie and bring her back, but Thomas reminded me that my whole ideas was for this to be a family event. So, we all went to get Ellie. Well, we wound up staying with that part of the group and had the most doors opened with smiling faces during that time.

Afterwards, we all went back to the church for hot chocolate, coffee, and treats. One smart mom (not me, I brought cookies and banana chocolate chip muffins) brought carrots and celery to balance out the sugar. That was a nice time, too, just getting to visit with people. We don't have that opportunity very often, seems like there's always something to do, or somewhere to go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Birthdays and Busy

We've be so busy lately. I know everyone is this time of year. Our birthdays all fall in a row (in the Fall). Mine is September, Thomas is October, and both kids were born in November. Wyatt generally gets to celebrate his birthday with his cousins on his Daddy's side of the family because Thanksgiving is our "family reunion" time with them.

The trip to my sister-in-law's (and brother-in-law, nephews and niece) was very nice. We rented a GMC Acadia from Hertz. I have to tell you, we really like those guys. We had a couple of bad experiences with another rental company, but people at Hertz were great. The Acadia had tons of room and a built in dvd player.

I made three pairs of moccasins from Tandy Leather kits on the way down, while I was sitting in my roomy heated seat. Best traveling shoes ever! My feet always get cramped and sweaty in tennis shoes, but I was comfy cozy in my brand new moccasins. From left to right are mine, Ellie's, and Wyatt's moccasins.

My beautiful children are now each a year older.

Ellie is now 9 years old.

Wyatt is now 7 years old.

In the midst of holidays and birthdays, Thomas won an award for Outstanding Contributor to USTA Tennis Program.

We've all been working on "renovating" our basement. I finally have a wall that I haven't had around our utility/laundry/workout room for the past 7 years (we had to pull it down because we found out we had termites). Thomas is busy doing trim work and I am busy painting walls, floors, and the ceiling. What is done so far is beautiful. Our project might not seem like much to some people, but we spend a lot of time down here and I know we're really going enjoy the changes.

Of course, all the normal life is going on with jobs, Civil War Kids Club, Awana, Co-op, school, Bible study, tennis, etc. There's never a dull day. It's literally freezing cold here in the heartland; chill ya to the bone cold. We have ice and snow still on the ground, but it is not to bad for driving, even on the gravel roads. Thomas said that he thought of Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter when he walked into work the other day. He has such a long walk that he was wishing he had hay bales to walk through like Pa Ingalls.

Much slower than I wish, I'll keep on trying to keep this updated.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Excited About Writing

I didn't start this project to get my kids excited about writing. I didn't even start this project with the idea to get my kids doing a project with their cousins who live states away. But I'm so glad that's what this whole thing has turned into!

Ellie drew a picture of her cousin Creede as a cowboy for his birthday and somehow she got an idea to write a story about Sheriff Creede. I don't remember exactly how that happened, but Ellie is a natural story teller, so I'm not surprised. She comes by storytelling honestly. I was writing stories for my own entertainment for as long as I can remember knowing how to write.

Well, we sat down at the computer, because I can almost type as fast as she can tell a story. Wyatt added a some to the story and I made a suggestion when they got stuck in one spot and argued about another. The story included all the boy cousins, including Creede, his brother-Carson, and Wyatt. I suggested adding Ellie at the end. Now the kids have been brainstorming about how to add Creede and Carson's little sister, Tess, to the story. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The kids got stuck at one point and couldn't agree on what to write next, so I suggested we send what we had (because we need to get to the post office and the library pretty quickly) and make the story "to be continued". Then they could write some more later. Well, as we were packing up the card, I had the idea that Creede and Carson might like to write (figuring on a love of books and storytelling from what I know of their parents) the next "installment" and send it to us. Then the cousins could continue taking turns writing. Ellie and Wyatt loved that idea.

The kids are so excited to receive a new installment of The Adventures of Sheriff Creede. They recieved installment #2 from their cousins on Monday. Ellie and Wyatt can't wait to write the next one!

They'll all get to see each other at Thanksgiving, and we're thinking of suggesting that the four of them write an installment together at that time. Their ages are 9, almost 7, 6 and 4. The boys' little sister, Tess, is nearly a year and a half old. Anyway, you can imagine with the span of those ages that this is a great, funny, and imaginative story about the Old West.

Kids love getting mail. Mine love telling stories. I love that they have this new connection with their cousins that they so rarely get to see.

I actually wrote stories with one of my cousins years ago. We would spend Spring Break together and work on a new "novel". We wrote chapters and sometimes even mailed them back and forth, but we never managed to finish a book. We were in Junior High then.

I expect that The Adventures of Sheriff Creede will end in a finished product...or at least a couple of completed adventures. I love how a simple idea for a birthday present from one cousin to another can turn into a fabulous family project. I can see this continuing on for quite some time.

I didn't count the first installment of Sheriff Creede as credit for homeschooling, but this could certianly be a homeschool project for credit. In any case, this is a great family togetherness project for any family...homeschooler or not. Happy trails!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

ASL (American Sign Language) at the Library

We had the most fun at the library today. Homeschool or not, if you're not taking advantage of your local library's programs, you should be! We have an especially awesome children's librarian at our local library. She even puts on special programs designed for homeschoolers. This was one of them (though non-homeschoolers were welcome, too).

Today's program was a follow up to a Sign Language program last month. Signing is a bit old hat for our family. A couple years ago we did Sign Language as a foreign language. Our local public library has all the Signing Time videos and cds. We borrowed all of them that year (not at the same time). We borrowed some of them multiple times for review. I even enjoyed the Signing Time dvds! I always thought sign language was really cool to learn. I learned the alphabet and some signs from Sesame Street, and some from school (I think). (Sesame Street is where I learned my Spanish, too!) I especially loved using sign language in church, when we were training the kids not to talk during church! Well, they were allowed to talk, but only with their hands. :)

So, back to today. The lady (whose name I don't remember learning) taught the kids last month and today. She was really wonderful. She taught them a bunch of signs for Goldilocks and the Three Bears today. Then she laid out papers on the floor with the word for the sign on them and had a child stand behind each word. When she got to that word in the story, she pointed to the child, and he or she did the sign. Then she had the kids scramble and pick a new word to sign. The kids loved signing the story so much that they asked to do it again and again. She finally had to tell them there was no more time. We also reviewed things were learned last time, and a list of vocabulary words that she had given the kids to study new words. I should've had a video camera!

Coincidentally, the latest Homeschoolers Notebook e-newsletter answered questions about sign language and using sign language as a homeschool class. The answers including Signing Time and a couple other websites that were also on the list our library teacher gave the families today. The two new websites I checked out were: Signing Savvy and ASL Dictionary Portal. The Dictionary is a search engine where you can put in a word and they will find a site that has a video of the sign for you to click on. Signing Savvy has a sign of the day, with video. It also includes a beautiful human hand alphabet, numbers, colors, animals, and other signs. The site is very nice to look at. Signing Time explains some benefits (according to scientific studies) of teaching hearing children to sign like: higher IQ scores, better adjusted, and read at an earlier age. I love that we might be able to communicate with a deaf person if we needed or wanted to. I also think signing is pretty fun. Signing is also a good thing when you'd like, or need, (like in church, the library, or if someone is sick) everyone to be quiet.

The sign language teacher said she's be back to the library to teach again this summer. I'll bet for the Summer Reading Program. You can bet we'll be there, too!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Grown Up Growing

God has really been growing me lately...in so many ways. My hubby got the job of Bookkeeper at our church a few months back, and while he was at the church working, the church secretary came in to get ready for the Bible Study she leads. Well, Thomas called me up and passed her the phone, and she invited me to Bible Study. Thomas encouraged me to go and so did my kids. There are not too many things I do on my own...especially not outside the house. I questioned whether, if I started, I would be able to continue. Thomas likes to play tennis, and often plays when there is nothing else planned. So, first I made sure that I would be able to keep going. He assured me that I would be able to. I've really enjoyed the Bible Study and the fellowship with the other ladies, a group of ladies that has changed each week (with a couple of them remaining the same).

Right now, I'm listening to Back to the Basics of Life Seminar 2. Which continues for the next three weeks. You can still sign up; and it's FREE. Wow, I've seen the lady's website who is speaking, and she is a more incredible speaker than I would have imagined. She just said you are eleven times more likely to remember something you copy. It's interesting that my maternal grandma typed the entire Bible. She just made me think of that. She's talking about having quiet time and equipping our children to have their own quiet time. Oh, there's so much more to what she's talking about; like training our children (Proverbs 22:6) and being an example to them. Those are things that are among the top reasons why I wanted to homeschool our children. They are also issues that have been brought to surface lately in our homeschool. I've realized that we need to refocus. We need to make ourselves a mission statement.

When the kids joined the Civil War Kids Club, the adult who helped this young man start the club ran out and gave us a book called The Ghosts of Lone Jack, and told us the club was reading the book. At both meetings that the kids have attended, there has been no mention of the book. We had started reading the book and there was some language in it that I did not like...nothing severe, but things I didn't want my children repeating. I had seen when the author of this book was visiting the library and doing a book signing, but we didn't go because it was a ghost book. The description of the ghosts were very vivid. They did not bother me (although twenty years ago that would have been a very different story), and Ellie said they didn't bother her. Wyatt began to have nightmares though. We quit reading the book (the nightmares quit) and I am going to give the book back to the club. I just let things slide and I know I shouldn't have. I apologized to the kids (and God). Between that and many other things that have come across my path lately, I have a renewed commitment to let God lead our homeschool path. Homeschool to me is not just between school hours, but a way of life. If what we are doing is not pleasing to God, then we don't want to continue on in that. I asked the kids to call me on anything they thought God would not approve of. I do want those who don't know me well, or would question this, to know that does not mean my children are schooled in a bubble and do not know about things like evolution (or fill in the blank with what you don't think evangelical Christians allow their children to know). My children study the theories, but know them for what they are: theories, not proven fact, as they are taught in the public school these days. My biology teacher was Christian, and except for that fact, I doubt creation would even have been mentioned in my classroom. Actually, mentioning that creation was his personal belief was the only mention of creation in that classroom. I am not raising narrow minded children, but children who walk the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14).

The kids and I studied the history of Halloween on Friday. Some friends of ours were discussing whether they would celebrate Halloween or not, and I felt compelled to look further into the subject. My family really didn't celebrate Halloween when I was growing up. I did dress up for school a few years, and we did go to the Fall Fun Festival at school, but we never went door to door "trick or treating". My kids had went trick or treating with friends for a few years, but those friends moved away. I had a friend who encouraged me not to worry about participating in the innocent parts of Halloween, but I could never really get excited about celebrating. Well, after studying the history of Halloween, the kids and I decided that we didn't feel comfortable participating in the traditions of Halloween. I think that maybe in the future, we might do something evangelical...to spread the good news (Mark 16:5), but unless we could feel that participating in the traditions of Halloween was pleasing to God, we didn't want to be a part of that. I won't condemn anyone for participating in Halloween, I will not judge anyone for participating in tradition they feel comfortable with (Matthew 7:1). This was continued growth for me though, not to bend to the social norms, but to be alien in this world, not of this world. My home is Heaven, and I don't want to question whether my Father in Heaven would be pleased looking down on my actions. If I have to question something, I would rather ere on the side of caution. I love to play dress up with my kids, but I never saw the purpose in going door to door asking for candy and coming home with a bucket full of future cavities. The scary stuff is yet another story (which includes a special assembly of ghost stories when I was in elementary school).

God is growing me in change. Thomas and I are going through Financial Peace University, the Dave Ramsey study. We are changing the way we deal with money, insurance, investments, our children's chores commission, and consequently each other. The changes are frustrating, exciting, and a bit scary. I'm really not good at change, but I'm leaning on my hubby in new ways of trust. I know these are good things for our marriage and our family.

So, back to the Bible Study. Our leader has this awesome visual. I need to make my own and take pictures, but I'll describe and you can probably imagine. Well, we start with when God created mankind we had a large circle body that was pure white and a smaller circle spirit that was all white. Mankind had no sin and was in full communion with God (Genesis 1:31). Then sin entered the world through disobedience to God (Genesis 3), and we have a large circle body that is black and dead, also a smaller circle spirit that is black and dead. Well, dead things can only produce nasty dead things...sins (Romans 3:23). So, when Jesus, God's only son (and the only perfect, no-sinning human), came to earth and took all the sins of mankind (past, present, and future) on him, he died and paid the price for every man's sins (that means wo-man's, too!) (John 3:16-17). When we accept Christs free gift of life, we get a white spirit circle that replaces the black one (Romans 6:23). Until we die and go to heaven, that white circle still sits in black flesh. When we go to heaven, we get a white body circle to go with the our white spirit circle.

Tonight we were talking about how when we ask Jesus into our heart that we all get a full white spirit; no one gets more or less than someone else. That spirit has many promises from God: He will take away the old and make us new (2 Corinthians 5:17), He will give us a heart to know Him (Deuteronomy 5:29), and our new spirit has wonderful fruit (Galatians 5:22): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. When we have that new, clean spirit, Jesus in our hearts, God smiles down on us because we are His! We may not always see the fruit, but we are capable of producing all of those wonderful things.

If you don't have a Bible handy, but would like to check out these scripture references, you can plug them in to Bible Gateway (just click on the highlighted words). You can even change the version of the Bible, if one or another is easier for you to understand the wording.

I've thought a lot over the past few months about the seasons in my life, as many people call them. I asked Jesus into my heart at age 7. I see spurts of growth over time when I spent more time in God's word, having quiet time, reading devotionals and the Bible, my summers at Super Summer Evangelism School, my time in reading good Christian works of literature. I could, and can, always trace back in times of choas that I have neglected my time in communion with God. I still see the sins of my flesh more often than I like, but I know that if my focus is on the only treasure that I can take out of this world (my relationship with God and those people in my life that having accepted the gift of salvation), that I will produce the wonderful fruits of the spirit (Hebrews 12:2, Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Why you get a Sock Monkey

guest author: Ellie

A sock monkey is the best toy. You do your chores, you clean your room, you get your commission. You go to Wal-mart; for $8, there's a sock monkey on the shelf. Oh, that's what I have in my wallet! I must get it! Yahoo! I got it. I named him Sam The Sock Monkey.
The End.

Misty's note: We were shopping for cousin birthday presents and Ellie saw The Original Sock Monkeys at Wal-mart. She was so excited! She couldn't wait to complete all her chores, so she could earn her commission and buy her very own green and blue striped sock monkey. Last Sunday, she had to wait all morning and afternoon browsing at the Plaza with me, while Brother and Daddy went to the Cheifs' game. We saw littler sock monkeys in stores at the Plaza, which cost more money. Finally, we got to come home, go to our local Wal-mart and buy the sock monkey!

Hard Tack

This is a Wyatt with a piece of hard tack that he, Ellie, and I made Thursday. Hard tack is "army food inside of the Civil War time period," says Wyatt. Hard tack is also known as ships bread, sheet iron crackers, and tooth dullers. There are a lot of recipes out there for hard tack. The one we used was "Army Hard Tack" found at Hard Tack Recipes. I felt it was the most authentic recipe because it called for whole wheat flour...which I imagine is mostly what they used back then...and our teacher at the Student Enrichment Day told us that it was just flour, salt, and water. You can learn more about hard tack at Gett Kidz-Civil War Food.

Hard tack was a staple to the military diet and many travelers. Basically, hard tack is a giant cracker or really hard piece of bread. The bread was usually twice baked and could last a very long time without going bad. If you were able to, you would soften hard tack using coffee, soup, or warm grease from cooking meat.

Ellie says hard tack is too hard. Wyatt says hard tack is as good as dirt. Thomas was shocked when he came home and picked up a piece off the stove. He said, "What is that?" Misty thinks it's not too bad; she could travel in 1800's and survive. But she's glad she had the foresight to only make a half-batch of Army Hard Tack.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why I love my teacher

guest author: Ellie
age: almost 9

1. She is my Mom.
2. She teaches me fun science.
3. She is the most important Misty in the whole world.
4. In arithmetic, she allows me to chew gum as much as I want.
5. On field trips, we have fun!

Misty's notes: I didn't know I taught fun science...yea! I have fun on field trips, too. And I love my students, Ellie and Wyatt!

Why does your Momma not make hard tack?

guest author: Wyatt
age: almost 7

It will work your Mommy to hard. You don't give her enough attention. She doesn't know the recipe for it. And you don't give her enough morning cuddles. Because you don't have good Science projects; like you don't have a popsicle stick two story house. And you don't grow butterflies out of caterpillars. And you don't get your commission. You don't paint your popsicle stick house. And I don't think that you could bite it. One of your teeth might fall out. Whenever I bit hard tack, it took me three times, just to get a little piece out. And you don't yell, "Mommy, help!" whenever you see a spider. And you're not old enough to eat it. Any you're too lazy to help. And you don't treat your Mommy with respect. And you don't give her back rubs (I still owe you a back rub!). And you don't let your Mommy make you work. You don't clean the basement. You don't clean your bedroom. You don't clean the playroom. You don't clean the classroom. And most of all, you do not wash your hands whenever you go to the bathroom. Ewww!!! And you don't keep your pencils sharpened. And you act like a baby. And you do baby talk. Now that is the end of the Wyatt hard tack story.

Misty's notes: Wyatt is none of these, because he & Mommy are going to make some hard tack today. Commission is payment for chores...what we used to call allowance...thanks to Dave Ramsey, wages have a new name at our house.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Civil War Weekend

We had a great field trip on Friday for the Student Enrichment Day of our local Historical Festival. The festival centers on the Civil War time period. I planned the field trip for our homeschool co-op. The kids all had a great time. They got to learn dances from the period.

They played period games.

They learned about instruments that would be played by young boys in the army. This was taught by one of the co-creators of the Civil War Kids Club. He is the eleven year old boy kneeling in the center of the picture. He did a wonderful job teaching and sharing with the kids. I think all the moms were impressed with him.

They learned about clocks (which was not as interesting...Ellie and some of the other kids look really bored in that picture). They did get to do an experiment, which I think they all enjoyed. I didn't get a picture of that though, because I was trying to help.

They learned about spinning and weaving and Civil War Military "stuff" (no picutures of that). The man who taught them about the Civil War Military "stuff" also had hard tack for us to try. Wyatt is now in love with hard tack. I got a recipe off the internet and another from one of our librarians today. He cannot wait for us to make hard tack. He says, "Hard tack is better than ice cream".

They also got to go on a wagon ride. Everyone got a chance to drive the horses! Ellie declined, because of her allergies. I drove the horses though. I told Thomas that I'm ready to get a team. My great-grandpa Edgar had a team of horses. Their names were Closer and Sweetheart! True story!

The wind was blowing like crazy that day, so unfortunately Ellie's allergies were also going like crazy. She is allergic to dogs and horses, both of which were present, and has some seasonal allergies. I wasn't thinking, and left her allergy pills in the car. I had to run against the wind to get them for her. Meanwhile, all the kids (except for my two...Wyatt is really careful of his and Sister's allergies) were petting the horses...then she is pushing them away when they try to hug her. Ugh! Also, almost all the families with us have dogs in their houses...so they could have been "carriers". Ellie is so sensitive that one day my sister had been at her future mother-in-laws (who keeps a large indoor dog) and then sat down with Ellie at our Mom & Dad's with her same clothes on; Ellie had a really bad allergic reaction. Since then, my sister is always careful to change their clothes after they've been there and are going to see Ellie.

My kids and I continued with the Civil War weekend fun on Saturday (while the Hubby was playing in a Tennis Tournament...which he won his division). Since they joined the Civil War Kids Club, they got to dress up and reenact at the actual festival on Saturday. They participated in three reenactments. I wish I would have posed them while they were still in costume at the festival, but I will think better next time.

They also got to do a cool thing called Pioneers in the Woods; which someone took a lot of care and time to put together! They went to different stations learning about life in pioneer days (based on the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder). At the end they got to eat squirrel stew (which my children declined, but I thought looked yummy) cooked over an open fire, apple cider, apple crisp, and cornbread muffins.

Here is a funny one. You've probably heard the expression: "You got a bee in your bonnett?". Well, Ellie literally had a bee in her bonnett on Saturday! Then we bought her a mob cap at one of the booths for $2.50 (the guy had everything 1/2 off, because he was going out of business), and she got a bee in her mob cab!!

There was a homeschool family (who also taught dance at the Student Enrichment Day) who had a camp site where they were making biscuits and apple butter on an open fire. I don't know if I've ever had biscuits made with lard (I always make them with butter or shortening), but they were delicious. The apple butter was really good, too. The kids liked them, too. Guess I need to learn to cook on an open fire.

Everyone there volunteered to do what they were doing. It was really awesome. After the big battle reenactment, I took my kids home to change clothes. Then we came back for the dance.

Oh, my goodness, the dance was so much fun!!! The homeschool mom, who taught at the Student Enrichment Day, taught this huge group of people all these folk dances like Red River Valley, the Virginia Reel, and many more that I don't remember the name of. The kids joined in, people got mixed up, we ate a lot of barn dust, but everyone was laughing, smiling, and having a great time.

I knew some of the moves like do-si-do, swing your partner, alemand left & right, chain, and star from learning square dancing, and couple of folk dances, in school. My parents and I took square dancing, and line dancing, lessons my Senior year of high school. I also remembered that I took square dancing for one of my PE credits in college. I don't remember the last time I had so much fun and got exercise at the same time! My legs were sore the next day, but it was worth it!

Oh, no! I just realized that the date on my camera is showing European style (day, month, year) instead of American style (month, day, year). I need to fix that, or I will be really confused on the date of my pictures!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Lovely Day

Today was an awesome day. I'd been kind of down because we haven't had just a regular week in at least three weeks. I'm just missing some normalcy and routine. Anyway, I was checking on field trip stuff and e-mail and facebooking my cousin, and a friend, a Happy Birthday, when Ellie came down to say "It's time to start school!" We didn't start school just then and she wandered off back upstairs to her room. I should've stopped what I was doing and headed off to the school room right then, but I had "stuff" to do...that I thought couldn't wait.

Wyatt then came downstairs begging to do Math. I was basically done by that time, so I headed up to help him start Math (his Math books get carried everywhere...he has even taken them in the car). I took the opportunity to make my big announcement. I received the Pizza Hut Book It! Reading Program kit in the mail yesterday and for some reason was thinking today was the big kick off day (it's actually Thursday, October 1). This is the third year we've participated in Book It!, but we really only half-heatedly did the chart before. I was always left with useless coupons (past expiration).

Well, my announcement got every ones attention (all two of them!). Ellie asked how the program works and promptly got a paper set up to write down the books she reads to earn her Pizza Hut coupon for October. She got out a couple of books, while Wyatt began his Math. Shortly after, she declared that Reading was her new favorite subject! You can't imagine what a relief that was to hear. I LOVE READING! Honestly, I've been worried that I ruined reading for her. I know she loves books, and listening to me read, but after the torture of trying to teach her phonics with 100 Easy Lessons in Kindergarten...realizing that I was not teaching her using her learning style...finally seeing the pieces come together...much nerves when asked to read aloud (which I only asked her to do when it was just the two of us)...I'm just a worry-wort. We had many discussions on how it's okay to make mistakes...that making mistakes are a good learning experience. I'm afraid I bore a little perfectionist...much like myself before I had children. So, ah, I can breath now.

Today has many wonderful moments. Wyatt petitioned me to ask to move up a grade in our Co-op. He has always been a year ahead in Math, but I have been reluctant to say he is a grade ahead. He did wonderful with the 100 Easy Lessons (pre-pre-Kindergarten) at the same time I was trying to teach Ellie. The style made sense to him. He could sound letters out, but he had no idea what he was saying. They made a pretty good team, because then she knew what the word was. I have not worked too hard on reading with him, so I wasn't sure if I could really say he was in the next grade. I also hated to move him up a grade and keep Ellie in the same grade. They are two years and two weeks apart in age...they should be two grades apart...right? Anyway, he made a valid argument about Co-op...that he know how to sew (yet is stuck with the little kids doing crafts)...that he is a grade ahead in Math...that he can do most things his sister can...that he know the 50 States song her group is singing (and I think the younger group, too, but they didn't sing it this last class time). Anyway, I told him he would have to prove himself in Reading (which he tends to avoid when possible). Well, he did! With Sister tutoring him! Oh, if I could just capture that moment. Honestly, I don't think I'll ever forget it. The two of them on the couch. When he got stuck, she helped him sound the word out (she was sounding out words!!! out loud!!! and reading out loud today, with confidence!!!). Brother was really trying, doing well, and not getting frustrated either.

When we had group read aloud time today (when I read out loud to the kids and sometimes the Daddy, too), Ellie asked for me to read Moonlight on the Magic Flute, a Magic Tree House series book, by Mary Pope Osborne. Ellie interrupted me once, asking to read aloud one of her stories to count for the Book It! So, I stopped and let her read. As we continued the story, I realized we were reading about Mozart as a child. A little bit later, the kids realized who we were reading about. They were so excited and Wyatt asked if he was a real person. I said "Yes, and I might have a CD with his music on it." Oh, did they get excited then! I can't blame them, I love music almost as much as I love reading. So, I search a bit and found a CD with Mozart's Symphony No. 40 on it. Well, Wyatt just had to dance with me. What a little dancer he is. He is not quite 7, but he can actually lead! He was twirling me (well, having me twirl by his hand position, I still have to duck under his arm) and moving me around the floor. I was impressed. Ellie was dancing a bit herself, but mostly she was conducting (she learned about conducting from watching the new season of Fetch! on PBS kids).

Today was just lovely. We didn't go anywhere! That was lovely in itself. I just got to enjoy my kids and homeschooling. I didn't get all the chores done today that are behind, but I don't care. The dishes can be done anytime; my kids will be a whole day older tomorrow. If Jesus comes back and we all leave this earth tonight, I will not be taking my dirty dishes with me, but I will be taking my beautiful children. We had a fabulous day.

So, now we're working on baths, switching laundry, and getting ready for bed. Tomorrow's another crazy day. Sometime before 3:30pm, we need to head to the library to pick up borrowed period clothing for Saturday (they joined the Civil War Kid's Club...but that's a whole other post!), go to the Poppy Seed health food store to pick up my special soap and Wyatt's favorite toothpaste, and pick up the ice cream cake that I'm buying myself for my birthday...and I get to work tomorrow evening at my part-time job (yes, on my birthday). Sigh. Thank you, Lord, for another day.

Hmm, titling this just reminded me of the song Lovely Day, by Out of Eden, which is so appropriate: "When I wake up in the morning, Lord, and the sunlight hurts my eyes, and something without warning, Lord, bears heavy on my mind. When the day that lies ahead of me seems impossible to face and when someone else instead of me always seems to know the way....then I look to you and the world is alright...just one look to you and the world is alright with me....just one look to you and I know it's gonna be...a Lovely Day!" We've just got to get the right focus, and it's gonna be a Lovely Day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ten Years

Ten years ago, July 4, 1999 Thomas and I were wed in holy matrimony. We wrote our own vows. This year, July 4, 2009, we renewed our vows. Both ceremonies were held at my parents' house. Many people who've seen these pictures have asked, "Do you think you've changed much since then?"
In case you can't tell when we were ten years younger, the lower picture is from 1999 and the above picture is from this year. I can see the passing of youth, but I will take the compliments of those who say my appearance has barely changed. I will also tell you that those two people have changed very much. We are not the same people we were ten years ago. I'm not saying, "the honeymoon is over" dunt, dunt, dunt, dunn (that's the bad music...I'm not so good at sounds in writing). Ten years have passed, how could we be the same people? We've both grown and changed...in many more ways than the physical.
These are the vows we wrote more than ten years ago:
Bride: I promise to love, encourage you, and help you achieve your full potential as God's creation.
Groom: I promise to love, encourage you, and help you achieve your full potential as God's creation.
Bride: I vow to take time to share with you, communicate, respect and care for you.
Groom: I vow to listen to, care for, respect you, and be conscious of your needs.
Bride: We will share our burdens and they will seem lighter.
Groom: We will share our joys together, so they will be multiplied.
Bride: I give myself to you as I am and as I will be.
Groom: I give myself to you as I am and as I will be.
Bride: I promise to be your best friend and lover for all eternity.
Groom: I promise to be your best friend and lover for all eternity.
We worked on those vows for quite a long time. We checked out books at the library. I will admit I come from a family of poets (including my dad and his mom). I think we got a bit poetic on that last line about eternity...not exactly Biblical, but it sounds really good.
You can see that we really thought about what we needed from each other when we wrote these. In retrospect, I should have asked Thomas to vow to love me, not respect me. That's one of the things that have changed though, I realize the place God gave to me in our relationship.
We dated for nearly four years before we were married. We met in high school and went to Senior Prom together. We dated through most of college (different universities). We talked a lot about our desires and expectations. We had a lot of time to get to know each other.
I recently had someone tell me that God uses the marriage relationship more than any other to grow and shape us into the people he wants us to be. I definitely agree with that. I like the first line of our vows, because I think we're both really fulfilling that vow: to help you achieve your full potential as God's creation.
I have learned so much in the last ten years. One of the most important is that even if I think my husband is not being "the man" I think he is supposed to be, it is not my job to take over his! Oh, the pitfalls of being inoculated with the feminazi propaganda. I grew up with "Girl's can do anything boys can do, only better!" and the like. I thank the Lord that he gave me a Mr. Steady Man (from Debi Pearl's book: Created To Be His Help Meet), because any other man would have probably left me long ago. I'm not saying that my dear husband is or was perfect, but I was not either.
When I read the teaser for Debi Pearl's book, Created To Be His Help Meet, I was in tears. I knew I had done wrong against my husband and my God. Something I learned from her, and was reiterated in our recent Fireproof Couples Study is that when we make our wedding vows, we are accountable to God for those vows. That means that no matter how my spouse messes up, I am still responsible for keeping my vows. I am answerable to God for not keeping my vows, just as my husband is accountable to God for his vows. My job is not to be a scorekeeper, or to punish my husband.
Ecclesiastes 5: 4-5 says, "When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed-- Better not to vow than to vow and not pay." The Fireproof Couples study used that verse, and the verse really made me think. I went into our marriage ten years ago thinking a marriage was 50-50. I now realize a marriage is 100% me, and whatever I get back is whatever I get back.
Within a week of reading Created to be His Help Meet, and implementing some of the things she teaches in the book, Thomas said to me, "What happened? You're fun again." Wow! Sigh. I want my husband to always think I'm fun. I took an interest in my husband again, the things he enjoys, and I made myself and our home a joyful place to be. I responded to him in a positive manner in all things. You'd be amazed how God can work a change in your spouse when you let God work a change in you first. My dear hubby learned that we he started doing the Love Dare on me!
There was another verse used in the couples study that keeps popping up. Funny, when we were working on this part of the study, I was using the first Bible that my parents gave Thomas before we were married. In that Bible, which he seldom uses now, was underlined Ephesians 5:22-33, "Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,...let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." There is a lot more in between the dots there, but the main point is that the wife respect her husband (whether he deserves respect or not), and the husband must love the wife (even if she is unlovable). Again, the most important thing to remember is that I am responsible only for myself! I also want to note that thanks to Created To Be His Help Meet, I understand that the only man God has ordered me to submit to is my own husband.
Our pastor (the same one who married us ten years ago) used that verse in our renewal vows. We let him write them this time. Here is the vow portion of the ceremony:
Thomas do you vow to continue to take this woman, whose hands you hold as your wife, as your own flesh, to love her even as Christ loves the Church, to protect her and care for her the rest of your lives? (Answer I Do)
Turn to her and make this profession of your faith: I, Thomas, according to the Word of God, vow before God and these witnesses, to continue to be joined to you, to be husband to you and we two are of one flesh.
Misty do you vow to continue to take this man, whose hands you hold as your husband, loving him as unto the Lord, showing him respect and tenderness for the rest of your lives? (Answer I Do)
Turn to him and make this profession of your faith: I, Misty, according to the Word of God, vow before God and these witnesses to continue to be joined with you, to be a wife to you and we two are of one flesh.
This is a bit of a spoiler for the Fireproof Couples Study, at the end of the Third Session, the Fireproofing Couples Challenge for the Week was to consider renewing your vows to each other. I had already decided that I wanted to take pictures in our wedding clothes for our tenth anniversary. When Thomas offered to renew our vows, I heartily agreed.
So, here we are ten years, two kids, some hard work, and a lot of God shaping later. We have changed. We have changed for the better. Thanks be to God. Without His love, we have no love to give. With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Joys of a Typical Day of Homeschooling

Okay, first, there is no typical day of homeschooling...at least not in my book. We have good days, okay days, and not so good days. Most days are good days, especially when we stick with our BASIC SCHEDULE:
Wake up 8:30-9:00am
Breakfast 9:00-9:15am
Clean up
Make bed(s)
Get dressed
Brush Teeth
Get glass of water for school
Class time 10:00am-Noon
Lunch time Noon or 12:30
Cooking and Clean up
Class time 1pm-3pm
Tea Time 3:00-3:30pm
PBS Kids TV time ok till 5:30pm
Dinner time 6:00-6:30pm
Chore time
Free time/play time/family read time
Bedtime Routine & snack 9:00pm
Yes, I do need reminded to brush our teeth, etc. There is a whole other "schedule" for the Bedtime Routine. The weirdest things get my family off schedule...like when the time changes so that you would expect everyone to get up earlier...we somehow get up later.... I don't get it. Anyway, we have been way off schedule lately, but slowly working ourselves back to getting to bed on time & getting up on time.

This new school year, we have been studying the Revolutionary War. This week, I've followed up with a lapbook and some other activities on Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere. So, yesterday, we are working on the Benjamin Franklin Lapbook and my dear darling daughter says, "Benjamin Franklin is so dreamy." And she says it just exactly like some young girl mooning over a steamy heartthrob. I was both amused and a little thrilled (because she is not mooning over some teenage heartthrob at the tender age of almost nine), but I asked her about it later. She explained that he is dreamy because he dreamed up such cool inventions (she LOVES Science); she also informed me that she would rather dream about Eragon, not an old guy. Both of the kids are very much into the Inheritance Cycle written by Christopher Paolini (homeschool graduate at age 15), but that's a story for a whole other post.

That explained, one of the other things we are working on with ol' Ben Franklin is his Chart of 13 Virtues from www.HomeschoolPatriot.com. A couple of those virtues being Order and Industry, which reminded us how badly we needed to get serious about getting back to our Basic Schedule. So, last night everyone got ready for bed on time, but we still didn't quite make it to bed on time.

This morning, I decided to set my alarm for 9:30, instead of 8:30 or 9:00am. I thought, "We don't really take that long to ready." Well, yes we do....so, we started school late. Which means we'll finish up after the kids get done watching their favorite PBS shows. Which is not a big deal, because those four scheduled hours of school are just what they are "scheduled hours," we generally have at least two more hours of school and up to six more hours of school on any given day. How many additional hours, depends on what we're studying and how into things the kids get. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but it is not uncommon at my house for the kids to come to me in the evening and say, "We're ready!". To which I respond with, "Ready for what?" (I'm usually in the middle of something and truly have no clue!). The answer is then: "School!". Well, how can you deny a child who wants to learn? Just to keep it real, I must say there have been plenty of times that the children have whined and complained and dragged their feet, saying things like "Do we have to do school today?".

I have to tell another cute one from this week. Yesterday, Ellie asked if she could save her copywork for "homework." I said, "All of your schoolwork is homework, but if you want to save it for later, that's fine." Too adorable.

My dear Wyatt learned a good lesson yesterday. He was messing around and not doing what I instructed him to do with the Benjamin Franklin Lapbook. I really thought he would be excited about the lapbook, because he would get to cut and paste, and we haven't done lapbooks since Co-op the year before last. He was too excited that he'd figured out how to make a balloon out of a big black trash bag. I admit I have been pretty lax on him, but this is first grade now, Mister! So, he had to stay "after school" to finish his lapbook and missed all but thirty seconds (according to Wyatt) of Arthur (which Ellie got to watch all of, because she listened and finished her work). He was wonderfully on task today, with just a little reminder of yesterday.

I am constantly trying to figure out new things to do for Spelling, Reading and Math...things to make them interesting and enticing. They seem to be the subjects that cause the most groans and complaints (though Wyatt loves Math himself...unless he hears Ellie start complaining). So, today I tried something completely different for Spelling. I printed off some spelling words which I figured would be doable for both of them and we had a Sort-of Spelling Bee. We had a little trouble with taking turns, because one would start spelling a word they knew, even if it wasn't their turn. They were VERY excited. So excited this went on for an hour! Ellie knew quite a few of the words, and Wyatt sounded them out to spell them like a little champ.

Both kids can be very brother and sister competitive and argumentative (though they can also be the best of friends). They both got really upset when the other one started spelling a word that didn't belong to them, so this is something you wouldn't see in a regular classroom, but we took mmm....four, I think, Scream Breaks. When they started to yell at each other, I yelled, "I think we've all got a mark in Moderation!" (In our Franklin Virtue Charts, you put a mark when you "transgressed the virtue."). Then I said, "I think we all need to scream for a minute." So, we plugged our ears and screamed our heads off for a minute (good thing we live out in the country!). Then everyone was smiles and giggles. It wasn't long before they were doing very well at taking turns and keeping their mouths shut when it wasn't their turn. Thanks to the scream breaks I didn't have to break up any fights, yell, or punish anyone! When I was growing up and working on my temper, I used to go to my room and scream in my pillow. I'm sure one of the scream breaks was just for the fun of being allowed to scream, but I went along with it anyway.

I decided that I should keep my camera in the classroom, because I would've got the funniest pictures today. The kids were getting silly at the end the the Sort-of Spelling Bee. Ellie started writing her word on the chalkboard as she spelled it, so Wyatt wanted to write his, too. I asked them to each erase their word when they were done, so the board would be ready for the next person. Well, chalk dust got to flying and Ellie said she was going for some safety glasses. I figured she meant her reading glasses, and Wyatt took off for his glasses, too. They hurried back and Ellie had her Daddy's sunglass safety glasses that he uses for mowing and weed eating. Wyatt had his glasses with his sunglass clip. They were both full of giggles then. Ellie was pretending she couldn't see and feeling around for the chalk and eraser. But we made it through the last dozen words. Oh, and they dusted the chalkboard eraser on their shirts...picture that one...with sunglasses, on black and navy blue shirts.

Earlier today, the kids were doing some fill in the blank and I had to use the facilities. So, I told Ellie to help Wyatt with spelling the words. He started to pitch a fit. I hollered, "Ellie is my TA and you will let her help you!" I got back and she had helped him finish his fill in the blank and there was no trouble. That was a wonderful moment.

We've been reading the Kingdom Series by Chuck Black as a family. Many people call this Read Aloud Time. Anyway, my Hubby asked for some books to take with him on a plane ride and I took both of my Knights of Arrethrae books out to send with him. He only took one, but was raving about it when he got home. He then volunteered to buy all the other books available in the series. Awesome! Since I won my first book from the Heart of the Matter, I started with Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione (the kids and I LOVED it!) and I did not realize what the Kingdom Series was until later. Anyway, everyone gets excited for reading the Kingdom Series at night. We are on book 3: Kingdom's Edge.

Ellie just interrupted me to ask me to help fix her bath! At 6:30pm! She is serious about keeping marks out of the Cleanliness line on the Franklin's 13 Virtues Chart. Which is great, because she's been at the point (which I remember around her age) where you practically begged her to take a bath. She said, "We need to get back on schedule! I want to be ready for bed early tonight...by 7 o'clock!"

Tea Time is our snack time. I do usually have my combination dandelion and mint or berry green tea (dandelion root has calcium and is also good for the liver). Ellie sometimes has
"Grandpa Dale Tea," which is instant Nestea with sugar. I used to watch Arthur with them. Now I use that time to try and go through my e-mail and freebie downloads at lightening speed. I finished at 3:35pm today...a personal record. I have been trying to do so much better about my computer time. That definitely goes along with some of the 13 Virtues we're working on.

Another thing I've done this year to make more good days is finally put a message on my cell phone which says "If you got this message, class is in session. Leave me a message, and I'll call you back." I can't tell you how many times I was in a session at the Homeschool Conferences, or read a blog post, or homeschool magazine article where someone recommended either putting a message like that on your voice mail or just turning off the phone during "school hours." We also got rid of our house phone over the summer, so all my calls have "caller id" on my cell phone and I don't have to wonder who didn't call and didn't leave a message. Even though we were on the "No Call List," we still got plenty of worthless calls during the day which interrupted school. I have such relief from putting that message on my phone. Why I couldn't just let it go to voice mail before, I don't know, but I say: whatever works!

I also have to say meal planning is my friend! If I plan the evening meals and Hubby's meals for his lunch with him, life is so much smoother. The kids and I eat whatever during the day; we all like the same simple things. Actually, I'm getting a chicken ready to put in the crockpot to make soup for tomorrow (that everyone, but Wyatt likes). I plan meals a week at a time. If we plan farther, it always seems like something happens and none of the meals work out.

Right now we're finishing listening to Listen My Children, an old time radio show about the life of Paul Revere that I downloaded from "Living Books for the Ears" aka homeschool radio shows. Ellie is especially excited about playing Rachel Revere now in her American Girls play: The Founding Daughters of America.

Well, I guess that's it for today. I have requests to read Berenstain Bears and Our 50 States. I just heard the washing machine beep, and I still need to get that chicken in the crockpot!

You can read more "Day-In-The-Life" Posts on the Not Back-to-School Blog at Darcy's Life with my 3 Boybarians. There's just one more week in her Blog Hop.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Walking to School in Socks

Today was our first official day in the new classroom. Ellie has been dying to have school in the new room. This morning she was so cute, as we were preparing to go downstairs. She had packed her backpack, because she has to have her art supplies with her wherever she goes. She was saying something about walking to school in her socks, or taking the bus, or just walking to school in general...I can't remember the exact thing she said, but we got into a whole conversation about the subject of school transportation.

I told her that her Daddy used to walk to school. He lived in a city and they didn't have a bus that took him to school. He also went to a private Catholic School, so I'm not even sure they had a bus at all. Anyway, she didn't know her Daddy used to walk to school (just a three or four blocks the way I remember him showing me). She was quite surprised.

On the other hand, I explained that I lived too many miles from school to walk. Walking to school would've been too dangerous where I had to walk, from our subdivision across the viaduct that crossed a major highway. I was the first one on the bus and the last one off the bus. Oh, that was the longest ride to my public school (and home!)!!

Wish I could've walked a couple minutes to school in my socks!

First Field Trip of the Year!

Yesterday we went on our first field trip of the new school year. We started doing the Kansas City Passport to Adventure last year. The Passport is a booklet that you pick up at one of the partipating locations and get stamped. Each location has a question to answer. After the child answers the question, they get a small prize, like sticker, a pin, a ruler, etc. The locations are all Museums, Living History Locales, or Nature Conservatories; which means they are all educational. If the child gets stamps at 15 of the 22 locations before the end of October, they send in their passport for a prize package. We tried to do the passport last year, but didn't complete the required stops to get the kids their prize package in time.

This year, we got in on the first day of the Passport to Adventure at our last Co-op field trip to Missouri Town. The summer did not go as planned, so until yesterday, the kids still just had one stamp on their passports. My friend, Colleen, and her kids are working on their passports, too. She suggested we go to two places yesterday. We agreed, so we all packed pinics and set out for Burr Oaks Woods Conservation Nature Center and Kemper Outdoor Education Center.

I think my kids were a little disappointed that the Conservation Center no longer had the giant log inside to play puppets, but that did have a cool giant frog that we took pictures on. We walked the Tree Trail at Burr Oaks, along with the Guide and Activity Sheet from the mailbox at the beginning of the trail. I think everyone had a great time; although we were all sticky and sweaty by the time we finished the trail. The worst part was the bugs that invaded our picnic: giant ants and daddy-long-legs spiders.

At Kemper Outdoor Center, the butterfly garden was gorgeous. There were quite a few interesting things to see inside, but the kids all like the black cat that was running around. The most interesting thing for me was the frogs and the GIANT tadpoles. These tadpoles "heads" were at least as big as a child's fist!! I'd never seen tadpoles that weren't smaller than my own fingers (at least not that I remember!). The tadpoles were inside of a beautiful goldfish pond.

I should've had Ellie take the waterbottle out of her scooter pocket. I do not look like myself. Those are my old glasses, but I wear them often with the kids. They are very sturdy.
Two field trips in one day, and more school when we got home (as requested, or rather begged, by the children) is my idea of a pretty good day of school!

Extreme Homeschool Room Makeover

Darcy, at Life with my 3 Boybarians, is hosting a "Not Back-to-School Blog Hop", and I noticed that this week is sharing classrooms. So, I just had to participate! For those of you reading that don't homeschool, it's Not Back-to-School for a couple of reasons, some of us never stop schooling and also we don't go "back" anywhere really, because we live at school. :)

I've been waiting to post these pictures. I so LOVE our new classroom! I can't believe I didn't think of re-arranging the basement and doing this years ago. Of course, I didn't have my cool library shelves until this year. Our garage is attached upstairs to our ranch style house, so we have a huge basement. The classroom got put in the area formerly used for the playroom, but it was a bad area for either use. It always has to have a sort of "hallway" to the bathroom in the basement (which you can see in at least one picture). Now I've moved our family room to that area, which naturally has a space between the furniture and the television and kitchenette are.

So, here are a couple of BEFORE pictures of our classroom and new/used shelves:

I know you're wondering how we schooled in the colorful trash pit. Well, we didn't. We did school on the kitchen table and the dining room coffee table last year. I would come down to the "pit" and collect what we needed. What we used all the time, I kept in this cool basket with a flip top lid that I got on clearance at Wal-mart. The year before, the classroom was lovely and we really enjoyed our time there. Then, well, life happens and that is how the "classroom" ended up.

The shelves look much better in this picture than they did in real life, so we (the kids & I) painted them star-gazer blue. Wyatt and I painted the ceiling of our basement (which is not a real ceiling, but just floor joices and floor boards, since we had termites that were found in the second year we lived here). The kids & I also painted the floor mallard green. I finally have almost all my books in one location (well, since I had my own bedroom; before marriage)! I've always wanted a library, so this is our library/classroom.

Here are the AFTER pictures:

The welcome sign was made for the kids by their newest Aunt Connie, when we went to visit their Uncle Ed in D.C. for Thanksgiving 2008. She put the sign, along with their names on the door of the room they were sharing. The kids saved the sign, and we use it for our classroom now.

I got the vintage metal/wood desks at the Goodwill. I found the antique wood desks at a local antique mall.

This is my desk. Right next to Strawberry Shortcake Chalk Board. Best garage sale buy ever. My cousin is so jealous. The poster above my desk is autographed by Bryan Busby, a local weather forecaster. We got to see him at the library at a homeschool program a couple years ago.

Ah, my books. A collection of my lifetime. I love the look of a library. And the white ceiling is so bright and nice.

This is on the way out the door of our classroom. You can see the old fashioned school type pencil sharpener on the bookshelf to the right, just above the trash can. There is a close up picture of the supply shelf just a little below this. The lamp really is a working gumball machine. I haven't used it in years. I think I'll clean it up and put some candy in it for rewards. Next to the lamp is the former home of our caterpillar turned butterfly. The chrysalis still hangs on it's branch.

There hangs my Familyman Homeschool Cartoon Calendar. We have gotten, and will continue to get, lots of use out of the comb book binder that we have on loan from my parents. And there is that pencil sharpener again. I really do like having an old school pencil sharpener.
The supply shelf. I was hoping to have room for paper on here, too, but there is really not enough room, with all the other stuff. I did manage to fit on a roll of freezer paper for art and a small stack of writing paper.

Here are my cuties, playing school while I take pictures.

The other view of my scholars. Yes, they do raise their hands while we're having class. Although I don't make them.

Well, like I said, I LOVE our new classroom! I like to just sit in it, or look at it. The one thing I noticed today is that I need a clock somewhere that I can look at it from my desk, instead of hitting a button on my cell phone to check the time every little bit. Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour!

P.S.-There is still lots of work to do on our basement. I'll have to post again when the arts & crafts area, playroom, and family room are complete.

P.P.S.-This is not to say that we sit in desks for eight hours a day. The Academy of the Gospel is not limited to one room of our house, or even our whole house. Learning is a part of life, something we don't box in. I think the major point of having a Homeschool Classroom is to have a place to put all the Homeschool Stuff.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I've been wanting so badly to write about our Extreme Homeschool Room Makeover and our Renewal Ceremony for our ten year anniversary. Seems like things have been so busy, I just haven't had a spare moment. I should be in bed right now, but my mind is full...of other thoughts.

A former co-worker died today. I didn't know her for very long, but she seemed like such nice person. She had two children that she loved very much; that was easy to see. She was very kind to a lady (who she used to work with) who had a degenerative disease. She had little, but shared what she could. She was thankful for what she had and what she was given.

My husband asked me if she knew the Lord. I could only answer with something like, " I think so, maybe." We talked about God one day at work. I believe she told me she went to church growing up, but not recently.

I think the day we spoke about God and religion was the same day I remember a couple of older ladies came into the store one day that we were working. They were such sweet old ladies, full of smiles, with bright eyes. They asked if we'd make our reservations for when this life is through (or something to that effect). I knew what they meant right away. I smiled and nodded. The ladies I work with looked sort of funny, not sure how to answer. The older ladies went on to explain a bit about Jesus and heaven. The ladies I work with responded with a "Oh, yes, we know about that"-type answer...not really assuring, a little vague.

So, I don't know for sure if she knew our Lord and Savior. I wonder now if there was something else God wanted me to say to her, but I didn't listen to His urging. I wonder if I missed an important opportunity to witness to her. I won't get another one. I often think that I witness by my actions, what I say and do, how I treat others. I know that sometimes people need more. They need to hear the old story, the truth of salvation, hope, life everlasting. I pray for her poor children, left motherless.

I have known many people die before, but most of them I was assured that I would see them again in heaven. Their lives were a witness to me. This death is such a reminder to make every moment matter, to savor every precious minute with my loved ones, and to witness without fear.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Real Love

I was going to title this "For Love of Puke," but suddenly decided that just wasn't quite right. Although I still thinks it's quite an attention getter! My poor daughter picked up the Puke Bug from one of her sweet cousins when we babysat them last Thursday. She is such a big helper, and both girls adore her. Grandma Pearl always used to say "Count back three days from when you got sick, then you'll know where you got it from." We didn't go anywhere that day, and the littlest one was sick exactly a week before. I'm getting slightly off subject, but puke reminds me of so many things. I know it sounds disgusting, but bear with me.

One of the things Ellie's getting sick reminded me of is that young children are carriers for longer than adults. If I remember right, when Ellie was about a year old, she got the Puke Bug from her little friend. Her friend's mom had clorox bleached everything before we came over, and we waited a week after she was sick. Sadly, I read shortly after the incident that little ones can carry the bug to others for up to TEN days after they're sick! I remember my poor baby girl truly sick for the very first time. She would not let go of me. She would cling to me and throw up all over my shirt. I finally gave up and covered the front of myself with towels, so I could just change them when she threw up. That little friend "blessed" Ellie with all of her first illnesses.

Puke brings me back to my title "Real Love". When I was a kid in school, I couldn't stand to be around puke, or someone vomiting. I would always feel that I had to cover my nose and get away from the smell, or I would be throwing up next. I also remember when I did get sick at home, how my mother would hold my hair back as I leaned over the toilet. I can't even put into words how comforting Momma holding my hair back was. I felt truly loved and cared for. That was all she could really do for me, but that was more than enough.

Another incidence of vomiting made me realize how much I loved my now husband and know that we could survive anything together. The time was about a year and a half before we got married. We were traveling across the state to attend the wedding of one of his college friends. The friend and his wife would become our friends, but at this point they were more his friends. Anyway, we stopped on the way to get a snack in a drive through, fried mushrooms, mmm...uck! We should have realized the moment we bit into them that something was wrong. They were hot on the outside and cold on the inside. We ate them anyway. On the way back home, we stopped for ice cream cones. Maybe an hour later, or less, I threw up all over my winter coat. I tossed my cookies on the side of the road, then had to hit a restroom on the way. We made it back to his college apartment (he shared it with his sister and her friends), which was half way home. He took my coat to the laundrymat, while I had everything in me coming out both ends. Yes, you guessed it, food poisoning.

Thomas is bigger than me, so my theory is that's why he took longer to get sick. That night, or early the next morning, the food poisoning hit him, too. Luckily one of this roommates was at the apartment. We sent her to the store for saltine crackers, chicken broth, and, I think, gatorade. I was not stuck in the bathroom non-stop by the time the poisoining hit him. So, we each took turns cleaning up each other's puke. I knew I must really love him, because I had never been able to clean up someone else's vomit before.

Which brings us back to my poor baby girl (no, she's not a baby anymore, she's eight, but she'll always be my baby), who is waiting upstairs for me to read to her. She was sick from 5 a.m. Sunday morning till nearly 5 p.m. Sunday evening. I felt bad because her hair is short and I just put barrettes in the front to hold her hair back for her. I rubbed her back, brought her water, wash rags, etc. when she asked for them. We have a method of filling the bedroom trash cans with layers of trash bags (aka Wal-Mart type bags) so that you don't have to run for the bathroom (my kids never make it!), and the puke can be easily removed and the trash can ready for the next time. Anyway, Ellie has been fine until this morning at 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.. She didn't have barrettes in anymore, and I managed to hold the front of her short hair back for her. I hope I gave her as much comfort as my Mommy used to give me.