Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Classical Music on the Web

Here are some great sites you can use when you are studying classical music, or you just want some music for your mp3 player!

One of the best is Classic Cat. It is a frequently updated database with links to other websites where the MP3's are stored. Look up a composers name, and you will find all the works that are available for download. Then there is free music from the US Air Force Bands here. They have a lot of great marches and patriotic songs, classical, jazz, and ceremonial music.

If you need some help teaching your classical music units, turn to Classics for Kids. You can read and listen to stories about the composers, and hear streaming audio of some of their great works. Dallas Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony have good websites with games and activities for kids.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bubby's Birthday Cake

Here is little Bubby's cake for his second birthday. He loves Thomas. I don't know if he has ever watched the entire show, but he loves the songs and dances to them. He always recognizes Thomas and gets excited if he sees pictures at the store, so I knew we needed a Thomas the Tank Engine cake.

I used a 13 x 9 cake for the base, and the Wilton Choo Choo Train pan for Thomas. This train is not really meant to be Thomas, so I had to modify it a bit. I was happy with the way it turned out. I decorated the train separately, and it was on it's own cake board, which was larger than the base of the train. I covered the cake board up with stars, and it ended up looking nice, sort of like the train was up on a little platform.

If I was doing it over again, I would make the face first. I did it last on this cake, and it was much harder, because I was so afraid I was going to mess up the rest of the cake.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Writing Assignment Ideas

Here are some writing prompts that I came up with for those days when the kids need a break from the ordinary copywork, dictation, penmanship workbooks, etc. I tried to come up with things that were fun, matched their interests, and would inspire them, rather than just being another assignment.

Feel free to use this list for your own school, but you'll probably want to tweak it for your own kids and their interests:

Writing List
  • A letter to Grandma
  • A letter to ________(favorite relative's name)
  • A letter to Grandpa
  • A letter to ________(a friend)
  • A letter to Mama
  • A letter to Daddy
  • Something you dreamed
  • Write about a movie you like
  • Write about a TV show you like
  • What would be a good TV show
  • Write a Bible story that you heard
  • Tell about somewhere you went
  • Tell about somewhere you want to go
  • Story in which someone learns something important
  • Story in which someone learns something silly
  • Story in which someone helps a friend
  • Story about finding a surprise
  • Story about planning a party
  • Story about doing something kind
  • Story about kids making something
  • Story about a pony
  • Story about a stuffed animal that comes to life
  • Story about a TV character
  • Story about _______(name of sibling)
I also had to write a second little list. Sometimes kids want to write a letter, then they don't know what to say.

Things that can go in a letter
  • Tell something you like about the person
  • Tell a story that happened this week
  • What is ________ (your sibling) doing right now?
  • Tell about something you had for a snack or dinner
  • Tell about something that is outside
  • Draw a picture and tell what it is
  • Tell about something that is your favorite _____ (book, food, tv show, etc)

Week 11 - Review

Our week has been very similar to last week.

Bible: We are still in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah.
History: We are reading our George Washington biography.
Readers: Peanut finished the book A Llama in the Family, and began A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla. She really enjoyed the first book, but the second has not grown on her yet. Our strategy is that I read the first chapter to her, which helps her to get a feel for the book. Then she's on her own for the most part.
Junior read The 18 Penny Goose. This was a good book. It had a girl as the main character, and sometimes he does not like a "girl" book. However, this one was not really girly. And it was based on a true story.
For an extra read-aloud, Peanut and I are reading Black Beauty. Junior and Dad are reading an old Hardy Boys book. I don't really keep up with which one they are on, but this is an enjoyable part of the day. We usually do it before bed, and that feels like you are getting to stay up a bit later!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tot School: Bath

Tot SchoolGo here for my Weblink Wednesday post.

This was birthday week for Bubby, who turned two, and I guess I won't call him Baby Bubby anymore. He IS my baby, but he's getting to be such a little kid, I know he doesn't think of himself as a baby. *sniff, sniff*

I was busy, and didn't get a lot of school-y pictures, but I caught a couple, so I will share them. He gets a kick out of playing with this water toy. We got it from Discovery Toys, but that was years ago for the older kids, so I think they must not have it anymore. It is really fun, and we have gotten a lot of play out of it.

I'm finding that the hour that the big kids are in band is a great time for Bubby and I to hit the library. Here, he has found a puzzle to play with. It is fun to watch him as he figures out a new puzzle, you can just see the little wheels turning in there!

If you want to see his cake that I made, see this post.

For more Tot School, visit 1+1+1=1, and say a little prayer for them, as their family is needing a special touch from God.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Podcasts for teachers

As a homeschooling mom and a Sunday School teacher, Karyn Henley resources have been very helpful to me.

The other day I visited her website, and she is offering free podcasts of her ChildTalk seminars. Each podcast is about 25 minutes long, and they are divided into categories. The original seminar handouts are included on the website.

I have listened to four of them so far. They are very helpful, and full of practical information that you can use this week. She goes developmentally through the different ages, and includes faith development. I believe they are geared toward teachers, but they would be very helpful for parents as well.

For more Web-link Wednesday, visit Homeschooling With Encouragement.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Week 10 - Review

We took the week after vacation as a catch-up week. We got our closets cleaned out and our winter clothes out of storage.

Bible: We read out of 2 Kings, 2 Chron., and Isaiah in the Day-by-Day Kids' Bible

History: We are reading George Washington: Our First Leader and we read Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? That was a very good book. It was a quick read and gave some details from the other side of the ocean that you don't always hear much about when studying the Revolutionary War.

We also did the taxation activity I mentioned the other day.

Reading: Peanut is reading A Llama in the Family. Junior is reading The Long Way to a New Land.

Language Arts: Peanut - LLATL Orange Book and HWT. Junior - HWT.

Science: Peanut - Human Anatomy, using Easy Make & Learn Projects: Human Body. Junior - Water experiments from library books.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Week 9 - Review and Field Trip

For week nine, we did an extended field trip. Well, honestly it was a vacation with hubby's dad to Branson, MO., specifically Silver Dollar City.

There was a good deal of educational value to this trip, so I am putting it down as an extended field trip. Here are some of the educational highlights:
This is a old-fashioned sorghum mill, being powered by a mule, as you see. I failed to get a good picture of this, so I have to rely on my nice sister-in-law's picture. However, she is an animal lover, and got a better picture of the mule than the actual mill.

This was quite fascinating to me. The mule is guided around and around in a circle and turns the mill. A person stood there and fed stalks of sorghum through the mill, and the juice was drained into a bucket. The syrup is made similarly to maple syrup. The juice is boiled until it condenses down into a thick syrup. Samples of syrup were available. Apparently, syrup is an acquired taste, because everyone around was not lovin' the sorghum syrup. Including my daughter. Oh well, more sorghum for me, I guess. I grew up loving the stuff. It is similar to molasses, but it just has a nicer taste. I'm not sure how to describe it, but the taste is strong like molasses.

Here we have a butter sculpture. I have seen this phenomenon on TV, but never in person. It was in a large refrigerated trailer, and you could look in the glass window and watch the artist at work. Well, I do like to watch a work of art in progress, and this was definitely a work of art...but something about butter as a medium is surreal. Oh well, it is along the same lines as pumpkin sculpture, and we are big fans of that.

Here, Peanut (pink shirt) is getting to help with a demonstration of Border Collie training. This was another fascinating thing! Sorry I couldn't get a dog picture, too. I was being pestered by a bored one-year-old. Anyway, the trainer demonstrated how the dog is trained to go clockwise and counter-clockwise. That is the basis for all of her herding. She herded sheep, and then geese. They had the volunteers come up during geese herding.

We had a wonderful time. Learning opportunities abound, and those were some of the highlights for which I found pictures.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tot School: Piano Guy

Tot School
I sat Bubby on the piano bench the other day to see what would happen. He had fun. We talked about high and low, loud and soft, and he tried to sing high and low. When I brought out the camera, he was pretty much done. He just wanted to get his picture made. What a ham! But I did catch him in action just a bit:

And yes, it was very necessary to hold that sippy cup the whole time.

He does spend some time at the piano whenever I want to play. He sits in my lap and bangs while I try to play from my Sheet Music Magazines. He is finally learning that Mama gets to turn the pages and he is not welcome to do that! Otherwise, he is welcome to help Mama play and if the melody line is not very distinct, that's probably my fault anyway.

He also helped me in the kitchen. The dinner-fixing time at our house continues to be the time of day when he is grouchy, not satisfied and gets restless. I put him up in his high chair and let him mash the avocado for mama. He was very glad to help with this. He used a potato masher, and he did a very good job. The avocado in the center of the bowl was perfectly pureed!

For more Tot School, visit 1+1+1=1.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Taxation Activity

Just a quick activity we did today:

We are starting to talk about some of the events leading up to the Revolutionary War. I found this activity, and we did it this morning with chocolate chips.

It was quick and very effective. The kids were outraged that they lost their chocolate chips to Parliament, the King, and the tax collector! The tax collector (me) quickly redistributed the chocolate chips so that she wouldn't be tarred and feathered!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Week 8 - Review

I have not been able to get onto Blogger all week. I tried a lot of things, but the thing that finally worked is uninstalling BSafeOnline from my computer. That program has been quite a hassle for us, does anyone have any suggestions for good blocking software for computers that children use from time to time? I like the format of BSafe, but it definitely uses a lot of resources, and slows our computer down.

We were on vacation last week, so that is why I didn't post my update for week 8. Here are the highlights:

Bible: Day-by-Day Kids' Bible - We have been in 2Kings, Isaiah, and Micah. We have memorized Joel 2:13, and ready to move on to something else.

History: We did a lesson on music in the colonies. We used Popular Songs in American History to listen to some midi files of folk music that would have come over from the British Isles. Then the Bay Psalm Book has text and midi files that would have been used in the Church in colonial days. Then, the kids learned a simplified version of the minuet. Here they are in all their anonymous glory!

Reading: Peanut finished The Boxcar Children. She tried to begin another Boxcar Children book, called The Pilgrim Village Mystery. She didn't like it as well, I think it may be a more modern version of the books. Junior finished Clara and the Bookwagon, and we had trouble finding something appropriate to read after that. Most of our kid books are a little too hard for him still, and we are waiting on a couple of readers from the library that go along with our history period. We finally chose The Kitten Who Thought He Was a Mouse from our bookshelf.

For week 9, we did our field trip to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo. We'll share a few pictures soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 is updated!

My brother's website that I mentioned here has the first of the new pumpkins for the year. Bookmark it and check it often during the next month, because he usually puts up several throughout the month.

Tot School: Vacation

Tot SchoolThis past week we had a some fun as a family. We all went on a trip with my father-in-law to Branson, MO. This was a very special trip for us, and it went very well. My FIL really loves to go to Branson, specifically to Silver Dollar City.

Silver Dollar City has a lot of fun stuff for kids, and the older kids had a ball. For little Bubby, who is not quite two, it was interesting in other ways. He just happened to be tall enough to ride some of the kiddie rides, but he is too young still and he was nervous about them. So he sat out and found other things to occupy his time.

He did like riding the train with the whole group of us. He could sit snuggled up on Mama's lap and the train did not go too fast for him. I also let him sit in one of the nice "picture areas" and play in the mulch. It was damp and cool, and he had a good time. At home, he is happy playing in the dirt under the trees, so I guess this was close to that. I had to watch to make sure he didn't throw the mulch, but once he realized I wasn't going to let him throw, he had fun just picking it up and dropping it.

In the gift shop, they had one of those bins full of polished rocks. He absolutely loved that. I would highly recommend that to anyone next time they are at a museum or other souvenir shop. The rocks are cold and smooth and they usually have enough in a bin for a little kid to bury their hands in. He really liked all the colors as well.

Here are a couple of pictures from early in the week, when we hadn't started vacation yet. I took him to the library while the older kids were in band, and he had a good time. Our local library has a rather large children's area with a few play centers.

One last thing that is interesting, but you can't see it in the pictures: When he is really involved in something, his face just goes so serious. He looks very concerned, LOL. He is such a silly any other time, he is always smiling. I guess a lot of kids are like that, but it is interesting to me.

For more ideas, go visit Tot School at 1+1+1=1.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tot School: Pots and Pans

Tot SchoolThis is our first week to participate in Tot School at 1+1+1=1. It is just a way to document the stuff we do with little Bubby in our day-to-day life that is focused on him. Bubby will be 23 months old in a few days.

This week we have just one picture. We played pots and pans this week. He had a great time. The activity came from the book, Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready. The goal was to have him put lids on the right size pans, and take them off again. He did that a few times, but he quickly learned that these pans make a lot of noise, especially when hit with plasitc hammer. It turned out to be a loud activity, but a lot of fun!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pumpkin Carving Contest at

I just found out my brother has been featured on the new Halloween portion of the This Old House website!

They are having a pumpkin-carving contest where people can send in photos of their pumpkins. He is not in the contest, but there is a link next to it that says Best Pumpkin Carvers on the Web. He is one of the featured pumpkin carvers there. His name is Scott Cummins.

His pumpkins really are the best ones on there, you can see if you agree with me, however. More of his carvings are on his webpage, Pumpkingutter. So far, he does not have any new ones up this year, but I think he will soon. But you can check out everything from the past few years on there, and read his FAQs while you are at it!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Buying for your school at "other" stores

I was thinking today of some of the "off-the-beaten-path" places for homeschoolers to buy school supplies. There are always Target, Walmart, office supply stores, educator supply stores...the basics. But we end up getting school supplies at many other stores. Here is a quick list I jotted down. Maybe you can think of more.

Discount furniture - for little bookshelves, desks, computer desks, chairs, for setting up your environment.

Museum Gift Store - this is a great place for buying books, science kits, art kits, and even gifts for homeschoolers.

Pet Store - if you have a "live biology project" like we do, you might be in and out of a pet store from time to time.

Craft Store - we find ourselves at the craft store quite often to get supplies for projects, experiments, costumes, displays, and other things. The fabric store will also have many of these things.

Garden and Hardware Store - more materials and tools for projects, and the all-important summer garden (no matter what size it is!)

Thrift Store - odds and ends. I found my daughter's colonial costume here this year. I have found lots of school supplies (the traditional paper-and-pencil-type) at garage sales around town.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Week 7 - Review

Here is a quick update on our homeschool.

Bible: We are continuing with the Day-by-Day Kids' Bible. We are still memorizing Joel 2:13

History: We did a Wampanoag Villiage model from Easy Make & Learn Projects: Pilgrims, Mayflower and More. This was going to be our last activity from this book, but the kids had so much fun, we might do some on into our Rev. War unit. Picture coming soon!

We watched a DVD on the settling of New Amsterdam. It is from the Colonial Life for Kids series from Schlessinger Media. These are all really good videos that the kids enjoy. They are from our library.

Reading: The kids worked on their reading. Peanut is reading The Boxcar Children. Junior finished Greg's Microscope and began Clara and the Bookwagon. We took a break from read-alouds, mostly because I'm waiting on a book from the library. *sigh* It happens.

Language Arts: Peanut - LLATL Orange Book. She does not like it, but I think it is just more writing than she wants to do. And it is not that much writing, she just complains. I remember being like that too. We would ask, "Do we have to write the whole sentence? How about just the words that are supposed to be capitalized?" Junior is just working on his new HWT book, Printing Power.

Science: We have not done anything formal this week. Again, *sigh*...

On the music front, Peanut is playing flute in band. Her flute was supposed to be in good shape per a flute teacher. Well, it was not in good shape per Mama (who doesn't know anything about flutes, but figured you shouldn't have to white-knuckle it to get a sound out.) Took two weeks to get fixed, but it is fine now. Peanut actually gets a really good sound out of the thing! And she is doing decent with fingering after not having it to practice for two weeks. Junior is playing the drums. He is Todd's son, so those of you that know Todd will not be surprised, Junior gets bragged on every week for how well he plays. I really don't know that he practices for more than five minutes a day. Figures.

Update: Dishwasher

A few weeks ago I posted about my dishwasher and the problems I was having. Well, I have good news! After a month, it is fixed! Well, so far, so good.

Here is what happened: I was really leaning toward not replacing it, then I started getting mad. Why buy a dishwasher and use it for only three years? Isn't that their fault? So I called them. I tried to patiently explain the least I think I did it patiently. The guy at the phone actually listened to me. But they weren't going to do anything about it.

He gave me the name of two repair places I could call. I thought I might as well call and see how much they charge just for a service call. The first place told me they would charge $80. To be fair, I called the second number. This guy immediately asked me what kind of dishwasher and the model number. Long story short, my particular model has a "service alert." In a couple of weeks, LG had extended my warranty so that what was wrong could be fixed.

So yesterday they came out and fixed the dishwasher. It seems to be working fine. Hubby is more critical and heard a slurpy noise which to him is not so good. But after a month of no dishwasher, I'm happy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A cruise

I don't think it's really going to happen, but hubby's family is wanting to take a cruise in the spring!

It seems that one cousin has been on a short cruise and he says it would be a great family reunion. Now that would be a lot more fun than going to a lake, which is what Todd has been wanting to do for a while. I think no one gets that excited about going to a lake, because you can do that about any weekend. So at least this would motivate people to come along.

The cousin that has been on the cruise says it is not expensive at all. I've done a little looking, and I do not agree with him. Maybe for two, but for a family of five? Hmm.

Regardless, Todd says we should go ahead and get a passport for each of us, so hey! Will do, but we better find something cheap!

Week 6 - Review

We are taking about 8 weeks for our Colonial unit. The original unit study from Homeschool in the Woods took about 5 weeks. We are tagging on some extra weeks to read some extra material and do a couple of projects that didn't get done. We are taking break the first full week of October, so our break will be at the same time we switch units. Next we will do a unit on the Revolutionary War.

Bible Lessons - One of our lessons was the book of Jonah. Then we started the book of Hosea. We began memorizing Joel 2:13.
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.

History: We read The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross, and made paper models of the Mayflower from Easy Make & Learn Projects: The Pilgrims, the Mayflower & More. The kids enjoyed this activity. The Mayflower model was not hard, and we are thinking about making some for Thanksgiving for table decorations. We will definitely save the two we did for that purpose. The Story of the Pilgrims would be a good book to use if you were doing a short Thanksgiving unit.

Language Arts: We used Bible verses for copywork. Peanut started on Learning Language Arts through Literature, the Orange Book (LLATL). It seems a bit easy for her, but maybe that is only the beginning of the book. I am not worried though. It seems to be a good book, and not a lot of repetition.

Read-aloud: We finished The Matchlock Gun. The kids turned out to really like the book, and the chapters were pretty short. The did not want to be left hanging, so we ended up reading a few chapters a day instead of just one. We finished sooner than I had planned, but that's okay. I read some reviews on which complained that this book was racist. Hmm. I don't really think it was. It was based on a true story about an Indian attack on a woman and two children. The little boy defended the family with a gun. It didn't say all Indians were savages, but these three obviously were. The Warrior's Challenge showed a very different type of Indian, not bent on killing others, and they were definitely shown as being mistreated. I think kids need some balance in these things, but The Matchlock Gun is too good to be missed.

Reading: Peanut began The Boxcar Children. It goes along with LLATL. At first she balked, she thought it would be boring, and we read it a long time ago as a read-aloud. After the first couple of chapters, she realized that it was her kind of book. She and her friends love to play that kind of pretend game, like they are having to survive and make things for their houses out of what they can find. So she will finish it early, most likely. Junior finished Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie and started on Greg's Microscope.

We also went on a trip to the State Fair this week. That was great!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book Review of Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss

Stepping Heavenward: One Woman's Journey to Godliness (Inspirational Library Series) Stepping Heavenward: One Woman's Journey to Godliness by Elizabeth Prentiss

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a very inspirational book. I would highly recommend it to any young lady who is wondering how her life could make a difference. It is a story, written as the diary of a young girl growing to be a young wife and mother.

In the story, you see a great picture of spiritual growth, and what it can look like. The girl starts out kind of silly, focusing on the things most young girls like to focus on. Gradually, through her mother and her pastor, she realizes that there is more to life than clothes and friends and boys.

The book was written a long time ago, but is relevant for today in the area of spiritual growth. That part is really still the same. The story is sad, too. It made me actually glad to be alive today and not back then. Sometimes we think of those days as "the good old days." This books brings us down to earth. This is a great time to be alive, and I would not like to have to deal with the the things this lady dealt with, though they were commonplace back then.

View all my reviews.

Super Supplements etc.

I am starting Junior on some Omega-3 supplements. We are not big fish-eaters at my house, one person doesn't even like to smell fish being cooked! He has extremely dry skin in the winter as well as trouble concentrating. The supplements seemed to help previously, so we are trying them again.

Does anyone use super supplements like Juice Plus and orovo? I used to think these were a waste of time, but I'm not as skeptical anymore. Do you think they really help? Now I really understand about not always having everything in your diet you might need.

TV and Stereo Stuff

I really depend on hubby for all things related to hooking up TVs, stereos, DVD players...he knows all that stuff about cords, etc. and how to hook up everything, especially when you do not want to follow the instructions that came with the equipment.

He must really be good at it because he has been asked by other guys to help them hook up their surround sound!

So I was proud the other day when I got my mom's TV hooked up to her DVD player. It was really not that hard. I just kept plugging stuff in to different places and it finally worked! The only problem was that I had to steal a cable from her stereo. She doesn't use her stereo much, but she will have to replace it. The new thing to use is an HDMI cable, and they do make things easier. More expensive, but it is an all-in-one option.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs #5: My Favourite Things

Todays Homeschool Memoirs from The Homeschool Post (formerly Homeschool Blog Awards) is about My Favourite Things. We are supposed to list our favorite homeschooling things, specifically, online or print magazines, websites, etc.

My first site I want to share is a topical Bible reference which I have been using. This year, I made the commitment to try to open the Bible more as I teach each subject. Instead of trying to read a little portion each day and closing it first thing, I want to see what the Bible says about each topic we are studying. This reference has been very handy. For example, the other day I was preparing a lesson on Big Cats, and I knew that lions were mentioned in the Bible (aside from the story in Daniel 6.) This topical index has over 70 entries under "Lion"! I just had no idea. So go there and look up a few words, you will be surprised!

Then, I'll share just a few more. A good homemaking blog is Home Living by Lady Lydia. A good cooking website is All Recipes. If you are trying to impress people, use the highest rated recipes. is my favorite site for used books. They usually have kids' paperbacks, and the shipping is better than Amazon Used Books.

A good blogging help site is Blog University.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Week 5 - Review

This week was our first week going to co-op. It really made me scramble, as there is not a lot of time between co-op and band rehearsal. We have 3 hours including travel time, and I have to spend part of that time lying down with Baby Bubby so he can get a short nap.

We may need to split one school day between Monday and Friday. Currently, we just do our errands and dance classes on Friday.

So here's a rundown of this week:

Bible Time: We read 2 Kings chapter 6 and 7. Part of this deals with a story about cannibalism, which was kind of disturbing. My kids are kind of young to deal with something like that, so I did explain that there was a conflict between two women because their sons had died and they were talking about eating their bodies because they were so hungry. This showed how bad the starvation in the city really was. We also talked about how the enemy strategy to block off the city so no one could get food.

Another chapter from Joel told about a plague of locusts. Peanut and I had read On the Banks of Plum Creek last year, which had a story about a grasshopper swarm that destroyed their crops, so we related back to that story and how awful it was.

History: We watched a video called What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? It explained a little more about colonial trades and apprenticeships, and a little about sea travel as well. Even though this video went on into the Revolutionary War and the founding of the nation, it had a lot of information about Colonial life, so I'm glad we went ahead and watched it in this unit.

Language Arts: We ran out of copywork with our unit study, so we have started copying some Bible verses.

Reading: We finished The Warrior's Challenge, and it did end up being sad, but the book was very positive and showed a great father/son relationship. The son and his father both made mistakes, and had a strained relationship because of this, but everything was resolved nicely in the end. We began The Matchlock Gun at the end of the week.

Peanut is still reading The Courage of Sarah Noble. Junior finished Prairie School and began Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Speed Reading

I have a long list of books to read. Some I really want to read, some I think I need to read. Many are homeschooling books. One of those that is sitting on my end table in the living room is Dr. Ruth Beechick's You Can Teach Your Child Successfully. Good, but very thick. Then I have two or three chapters a week in a book that we are reading in a Bible Study at church. That one has some homework with it. That is in addition to my daily Bible reading. I had also started another book by Dr. Beechick, Heart and Mind, when we were away for the weekend a few weeks ago and I haven't had time to pick it back up. I also have been enjoying the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'brian, but that is just for fun reading, so it gets put on the back burner pretty often.

That is a lot of reading, so the other day I checked out yet another book, this time on speed reading. I think it would help to increase my speed, since I don't have a lot of extra time. Right now, my best speed is 400 words per minute. That is when I'm distraction-free. I'm sure that I'm quite a bit slower than that most of the time, when I have a baby to worry about and frequent interruptions.

I'm already noticing that these books do not address the problem of multiple distractions. They keep saying things about quiet rooms, reading lamps, etc. Nothing about proper lighting for the bathroom!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Family computers

The kids have been asking if they could have their own computer. This would not really be a problem, as we have an old one that would be fine for most of their activities. I guess all we would need is something like a Linksys router and a place to put the computer. We could get by without the router, as they don't need Internet access, and they already use the printer too much.

But I'm leaning towards the "No" side of this issue. We have had so many problems with the kids putting computer games too high on the list of priorities. I have given a mini-lecture in the past couple of weeks that ended with the words, "People are more important than computers!"

Ah, well. I don't think the computer is the center of the problem. The selfish attitudes would be there even without a computer at all. Still, for now the kids do not have their own computer, though they can use ours for educational stuff and a bit of fun too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Something new Meme

Todays memoirs topic is something new. "Share something new you are using, why you are using it, and how you like it.."

One new thing we are using is the Time Travelers Colonial Life unit study from Homeschool in the Woods. We decided to use it because we haven't done a lot of unit studies, and this year we've decided on a unit study approach. I look forward to preparing my own unit studies, but I wanted a pre-packaged study for our first big one. This unit study hasn't disappointed at all! Of course, as with most curricula, there are too many activities to get it all done, but we have really enjoyed everything we have done with this study. My favorite thing is that the study builds in time to get projects done! That is a life-saver. We don't feel like we are always scrambling to catch up.

There are a couple of cons to the program. For one thing, there are text lessons each day to be read. I have been reading some of them to my kids, but often we skip them because they are a little dry, and we prefer a Charlotte Mason, living-books approach. The unit study does have recommended additional reading, but I have relied on some other book lists to get our good living books that we have used.

Now that our study is winding down, I think the copywork assignments could be changed a bit. They use "Rules of Civility." I will try to post later about that topic.

For more "Something New" posts, see Homeschool Memoirs at HSBA.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Week 4 - Review

This week was a bit shorter. Dad was home for Labor Day, so we didn't do school on Monday. We had also noticed Baby Bubby rubbing his ear, and just being generally cranky. So Tuesday we had to take him to the doctor. So we abandoned our regular schedule and just got our music practice and chores done.

We still had a nice week, though more relaxed.

Bible: One of our Bible readings was on the story of Naaman. The kids put on a puppet show to tell the story.

Here is Naaman.

In this picture, Naaman thanks Elisha and says he will now serve the true God.

This was special to me, because this kind of thing is what I had in mind even before we started homeschooling as kind of a mental picture of homeschooling. It doesn't happen all that often, and I enjoy a lot of other things about homeschooling, but I love it when my kids will put on a puppet show or otherwise act out a story that we are learning about!

They did the same reading books as last week.

For science, Peanut got a new book about the moon from the library, called What the Moon is Like. Junior did an demonstration of how hot water moves in cold water, which was in one of his library books.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Week 3 - review

Bible Time: We read from 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles this week. The most important story in our opinion as parents is the story from 2 Chronicles 19-20, where Jehoshaphat led his people into battle with praises. However, even though I really talked this story up and reviewed it with the kids each day, two days later no one really knew anything at all about Jehoshaphat. Junior wasn't even sure if he was a good king or a bad king. *Sigh* I want to go back to this story later on in the year and see if I have any fresh ideas for it.

History: We are doing Colonial Life from Homeschool in the Woods. This week we made fortune catchers and silhouettes. The kids love, love, love the fortune catchers. Junior ended up making one for his grandpa and Peanut made one for a little friend who was coming over.

The silhouettes were more difficult. I will put up a post with silhouette tips later. Dad will take them to work and shrink them on the large copy machine there, and they will make a nice framed piece, I believe.

Our read-aloud is still The Warrior's Challenge by Dave and Neta Jackson. I like it. There are some themes that I feel my kids would better relate to if they were older, but it is not a big deal. The subject of cruelty to Native Americans is dealt with without being disturbing to young kids.
In the evenings, I do read-alouds with Peanut by herself. We love reading the Burgess Animal stories, but we just started on Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Clearly, and we are enjoying it. Somehow I missed it growing up.

For language arts, we are still doing copywork using the Rules of Civility from our unit study.

Reading: Junior finished up Nate the Great and started on Prairie School. Peanut finished The Skippack School, and she really liked it. After the first few chapters, I did not have to share the reading with her. She got into it on her own, and didn't want to wait on me to finish what I was doing.

For science, we got a lot of books at the library, but we haven't gotten started on them yet. Junior is wanting to study buoyant forces. Before I got to the library, I found some directions online for making a Cartesian Diver, so we did that. It was a bit tricky, but we got it to work. The cartesian diver doesn't exactly demonstrate buoyant forces, but it is close enough. My opinion is that when he says "buoyant forces," he means that he wants to do water experiments, and he did enjoy the Cartesian Diver.

Sale going on this week only

This week only, you can get the Organized Mom Super Set from Cindy Rushton for 1/2 price!

Start out this Mom-Year* on the right track! This has tons of help for getting organized, both in your home, and in your homeschool!

To promote the Organized Mom Super Set, Cindy let me know that she is giving away some resources. You might not be familiar with what she offers, so here are some products that you can have for FREE!

Gearing up for a New School Year - Part 1 - this is an e-book (.pdf file).

Gearing up for a New School Year - Part 2 - the second part of the e-book (.pdf file).

Gearing Up Audio - an mp3 file, which is a companion to the the e-book.


*The Mom-Year starts in September, you know!!

Routines (Homeschool Memoirs #3)

We keep a Mon. - Thurs. routine at Psalm One School. Friday is our errand/dance day, so we are out most of the day. We used to work library time into our errand day, but the almost-two-year-old brother throws a damper on that. He is not much fun at the library. So we save the library for an evening or weekend where Daddy can watch him at home. That will get better eventually.

Our routine is basically this:
9:30 am: Prayer/Bible Time - we take prayer requests, read our selection from the Day-by-Day Kids' Bible, and discuss the lessons in it. Sometimes we do an activity.

10:00 am: History - we work on projects from our unit study and I read the kids from our read-aloud book.

11:00 am: They have all their other assignments which do not require 100% of my time. I go back and forth as they need help with math, language arts, reading, piano, instrument practice, etc. They can also use this extra time for finishing up any history projects that are still open.

Junior(7) usually finishes around 12:00 or 12:30. Peanut (9) takes about an hour longer.

In the afternoon, we work on science projects (on certain days of the week.)

When they finish school work, they have a list of chores and things that have to be done each day. This list has everything from special chores to brushing teeth. We used to have a short list that had to be completed before we started school. That doesn't work for our family, because we start the school day with prayer and Bible reading. If one person is slow about getting their bed made, it puts us all behind. So now we start school no matter where people are on their list of chores.

The list of chores has to be completed before any fun stuff. No computer time, TV time or playing with friends until everything is done. If we are saving science for later in the day, we don't count it toward the "school work" that has to be done. Sometimes it has to be saved for later because of the little one's naptime, etc.

The chore list is in effect almost every day, even if we are not doing formal school. It gets done on Fridays, Saturdays, holidays, every day but Sunday.

Prayer Request: Our prayer and goal for the year is to have God's peace over us all, and limit the fighting and contention between my older two. "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" Psalm 133:1

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dishwasher Decision

My dishwasher, which I have only had for three years, has broken down once again. This time it is out of warranty, and I think the repair bill would be huge. (By the way, it is an LG and has been a lemon all the way. Bad job, LG.)

We can get a new dishwasher, but I would have to dip into my little savings fund where I have been saving for a new dining room table. I'm actually considering not replacing this dishwasher.

Hubby says it would not be hard to fix up a couple of storage drawers in place of the dishwasher, but in a way that it could be easily removed if we decided to stick a dishwasher back in that space. And in my small kitchen, the extra storage would be an asset.

We have two able-bodied kids that could help share the load of handwashing dishes. They are nine and seven. There is also a two-year-old who is no help, of course.

So give me any input on what we should do. I sure hate to put my table off for another year! I also don't want to be constantly behind on dishes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Porch plans

I got to sleep in a tiny bit this morning, and started thinking about our back porch we might do sometime in the next year.

Currently, we have a very small concrete area for a back porch. It is the bare minimum, just to keep from having a muddy place outside the back door.

It needs to be bigger. I can't picture anything like a deck, because of the way our backyard slopes down to the house. And a roof over it would be great. Those two elements might allow a small area to the side to store the riding lawn mower, which doesn't have a home right now.

Then just a small table and chairs would be perfect. I am not going to get too excited about a lot of furniture back there. We always say we are going to eat outdoors, but the bugs make it impossible.

I am researching whether we really need patio furniture covers on a covered porch. Of course, you see it in all the pictures, I'm just wondering if it is really necessary.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Smart Kid

Bubby (1yo) has learned to turn the TV in my bedroom on and off. He thinks he is smart when he does it. Tonight it was off and he turned it on. Obama was making a speech. He took a couple of steps back and said, "Uh-oh."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My 2008-09 School Schedule

Psalm One School's Eclectic Plan

This is my second year of making up my own curriculum. I try to stay a week or two ahead of the kids in my specific planning. Any more than that, and I end up making so many changes it's not worth it.

I will try to update every week or two, so be sure and check that out to see how it's going.

We have two children that are school-aged: "Peanut" is a 9yo girl and "Junior" is a 7yo boy. "Bubby" is our little one who will turn two in November. He is homeschooled too, but of course none of that is written down on paper. Sometimes we use Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready for him.

BibleDay-By-Day Kids' Bible. Read one day's reading each day of school.We are using various references as needed. For activities, we often use the book, 1001 Ways to Introduce Your Child to the Bible.We include hymns and choruses during Bible time as appropriate.
Memory WorkUsually a Bible passage. We try to use entire chapters as we are able, but do add some shorter passages, 1-2 verses at a time. We use the Simply Charlotte Mason system to keep up with what we're doing.
HistoryWe are following Heart of Wisdom's Year 3 schedule. We did Ancient History and Middle Ages with Sonlight 1&2, and were ready to move on. We are not doing "Explorers" as that was part of our last year's study. Heart of Wisdom doesn't really have a planned out "Year 3" to sell, but in their e-book, The Heart of Wisdom Approach, they give guidelines for planning your own lessons, so we are doing that.For the Colonial Era, we are using the unit study called "Colonial Times" from Homeschool in the Woods. We are considering using their Revolutionary War study.
Read-aloudsWe are using some Read-alouds recommended by Heart of Wisdom. I don't use Sonlight anymore, but I love the idea of doing read-alouds that go along with the era of history we are studying. Sometimes our read-alouds don't match up, but it's great when they do.
ReadersJunior (7) is using readers that we already had when we did Sonlight with his older sister. Peanut (9) is using various books that are on her reading level. Bonus points (for me!) when they correlate with the era of history we are studying. I got a good list from the Heart of Wisdom e-book I mentioned above, and I have also used some books recomended by Sonlight.
ScienceDelight-directed. The kids choose their own topics for study. Heart of Wisdom has a set of topics laid out for each year, but we've decided that at this young age, we do not need to check off a list of topics that have been studied.First, Peanut wants to do a project about growing plants on the moon, available from the NASA website. Second, Peanut wants to learn about the human body. Junior want to learn about the forces of buoyancy. We will use library books and do demonstrations.
MathWe use Singapore Math.
Language ArtsLearning Language Arts Through Literature (LLATL)Junior (7) The Red Book (old version)Peanut (9) The Orange Book (new version)
SpellingJunior (7) He was working in Sequential Spelling 1 last year, we will continue this year.Peanut (9) We are going to try a Charlotte Mason approach to spelling (copywork, dictation) this year.
MusicWe are planning 12 week composer studies per Charlotte Mason. Last year we did Bach, Handel, and Mozart. We will start that again in September. I am not sure which composer will be next.I am teaching the kids piano. We are going through as many primer books as we can find, as advised by my mother and another piano teacher. They say to stay in the primer levels to get really grounded in the fundamentals.The kids are also in beginner homeschool band. Daily practice on piano and band instruments is a part of our school schedule.
ArtCurrently, we are not doing anything formal
Home ArtsWe have a simple chore list and we are practicing being diligent with that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

WFMW: Storytime Bears

A couple of years ago, I did something in my preschool Sunday School class that helped little ones settle down for a few minutes for storytime. The idea is not mine, it came from a taped seminar from Karyn Henley.

When it is time for storytime, give a little child a small stuffed animal to hold onto. Ours were specific bears that only came out for storytime. This gave little hands something to do for the few minutes that they were required to sit still to hear a story. Young children really do need something to "do" instead of being required only to sit. We told them to keep the bears on their laps and help them listen to the story.

I found that this worked best for ages three and four. The two-year-olds did not quite understand what they were supposed to do, and the five-year-olds were a bit too old for it. They had more fun being silly with the bears.

If you have a little one that has trouble sitting quietly for a quick story, this might help you, too! For more ideas, go to Works For Me Wednesday.

The first two weeks - Part II

Thanks for bearing with me on the continued post.

History - We are using Homeschool in the Woods' Time Travelers Colonial Life unit study. The kids pick the activities that they want to do. We made some notebook pages and projects to go along with what we are learning. For one project, Peanut and I dyed cotton, wool, and linen samples using raspberries, blueberries, and red cabbage. She still wants to try mustard greens, so that is waiting for us this week. I am pretty sure the color will disappoint, though I haven't said anything. The other colors turned out pretty, however.

Language Arts - Right now, all we are doing is the copywork assignments from our unit study. They use Washington's Rules of Civility. For Junior (7), I just have him copy some of the words, as the assignments are a little heavy for a kid his age still working on mechanics. I try to have him do most of the punctuation, and write the words that I feel like he can learn to spell on his own soon.

Math - My kids use Singapore Math. This has been working well for us.

Read-Alouds: The first week, we read Pedro's Journal by Pam Conrad. This is a book about Columbus, but we missed this book last year when we studied Columbus, so this is a catch-up book. It was interesting to me, but the kids just tolerated it.

After that, we started The Warrior's Challenge by Dave and Neta Jackson. This started out slow, but it is picking up excitement. I am getting the feeling that it is going to be a sad book.

Reading: Junior read Hill of Fire, and started Nate the Great. He always reads them aloud to me. Peanut read Our Strange New Land from the My America series, and started on The Skippack School by Marguerite d'Angeli. Peanut enjoyed the My America book, it is similar to the American Girl books. The Skippack School is a higher-quality book. She did not like it at first, she said it was too hard. I don't think it is a difficult book, but it uses some dialect like German immigrants would use, and that may be what she was talking about. About three chapters in, she started liking it. I took turns reading outloud with her on this book, until she got more interested. She usually does her reading on her own.

We will start science in the coming week. We are delight-directed in science, so I let the kids pick their own topics.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First two weeks - Part I

We have completed the first two weeks of our new school year. Thought I would blog about how it's going. I need to split this post up into two parts, since it was getting rather long.

The home is not falling apart. There are moving boxes in the dining room, which I wish were not there, but other than that, things are staying decent. (We are not moving, nor have we recently moved. The boxes are for some things that will have to go up to the attic, but they just haven't moved yet. I guess I'm anticipating putting up summer clothes, but I think we are about a month away from that, so I should get them out of the way.)

We will be adding a few things in the next two or three weeks, such as science. I started with the "bare bones," to keep it simple while we started, so we will have to add some things as we go.

Bible Time: We are starting out with Bible time and allowing more time to really get into the Word. Last year we did more of a devotional or character trait each day. Now we are reading from The Day by Day Kids Bible. We read one day's reading per day, but we won't get through it in one year since we do not school 7 days a week. I read the selection aloud, usually pausing after each paragraph or two and alternate asking the kids to narrate back that portion. Peanut (9) is doing well with that, Junior (7) is not doing as well.

From my reading of other homeschoolers' experiences, I believe that is typical for his age. I try not to make a big deal about it when he is not able to. There is the natural competition between the two of them, however. My new plan is to read a longer passage when it is Peanut's turn, so she will be more challenged, and the differences between them will not be so obvious.

We have been using the book, 1001 Ways to Teach Your Child About the Bible by Kathy Reimer. This book was recommended by Heart of Wisdom. I am really liking it. One day we talked about how King Ahab prayed to Baal for rain. Elijah told King Ahab that he had made God angry by doing this, and that it would not rain for three years. After reading that story, we did a science experiment about how rain clouds form. Another day, we talked about how through Elijah, God helped a widow to never run out of oil and flour. We made a cake from a cake mix that called for oil. Not Biblically accurate, but fun!

Tomorrow I will finish posting about the rest of our first two weeks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gift of the month clubs

When you're looking for gifts, there are always those monthly gift clubs. You know, fruit of the month club, wine of the month club, coffee of the month club. I thought there were several of those. I just did a search online and there are more than I thought!

These are usually a bit expensive, but when you think of it as not really one gift, but twelve gifts, they are not that bad.

Has anyone out there ever done your own? I have seen that idea several times as a sort of "make-your-own" gift idea. For example, you could make a different kind of cookie or brownie each month. Or you could make a craft or get something to add to their collection, whatever that might be, each month.

It would take a lot of committment, that is why I am wondering if anyone really has done it. A six-month committment sounds more practical.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Double-sheeting: reposted

Double-sheeting my kids’ beds has made life a lot easier for me. I have talked to some moms who don’t know how to do this, so here is how:

You will need the following to double-sheet the bed: Two waterproof mattress pads and two fitted sheets. Put a waterproof mattress pad over the mattress, and top with a fitted sheet. If you are not working with baby bedding, go ahead and add a flat sheet and a folded pillowcase. That way you have a complete set underneath.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now top with the second mattress pad, and finish making the bed as usual.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now, whenever you need to, you can quickly remove the fitted sheet and top mattress pad to reveal clean sheets! This has helped me on so many levels. When my babies were small, I sometimes found myself standing at the crib with a sleeping baby in my arms. I would look down and see a drool ring on the sheet (or a worse ring!) In that case, the crib sheet and pad could be taken off with one hand before putting the baby down. It worked so well that I kept it up when they got older. It worked during night-time potty training, but it has been most helpful when a child gets sick in the night. I won’t be graphic, but you know what kind of “sick” I mean. This is usually accompanied by crying and chills. By double-sheeting, you can quickly remove the mess, and the sick child can crawl back into a nice, clean bed.

Another bonus: We use Peanut’s bed for a guest bed when we have overnight company. Since I double-sheet her bed, there are always clean sheets ready for the guests. I just take hers off to wash and put the blankets and bedspread back on.

This concept has worked so well for me that I often use it for a baby shower gift. I type the directions up on a nice card and attach it to my gift of a waterproof crib mattress pad and fitted sheet.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beginning Hard Drive Organization.

We started school this week. This will be our fifth year homeschooling.

I have noticed that with four years under my belt, my computer's hard drive is getting a bit congested. I heavily rely on my computer for homeschooling, as I suppose many others do. I have many, many free files that I have downloaded, as well as some ebooks that I have purchased.

Now I am finding it necessary to organize some of this stuff into a more usable system. For me, group of folders for each different topic is going to be the easiest. I can start with some general areas and use sub-folders to organize into more specific categories.

My basic subjects will be: History, Math, Phonics, Literature, Music, Grammar, Handwriting, and Art. I am sure I will have to add some as I go.

I am going to put .pdf documents in the same folders as my MS Word documents, and sometimes I might even have .mp3 files along with them. That should work best for us.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Handprint Frame Tutorial

One of the things I wanted to do last year for Christmas gifts is to make handprint frames, using my one-year-old's handprint.

I got sticker shock when looking at the kits. They were approximately $17 for a brushed aluminum hinged frame, with space on one side for a picture, and the other side for a handprint.

It took me a while to figure out how to do this. Even though I wasted a package of clay by making a mistake, I was able to finish two of these for less than one kit would have cost me.

To make a frame, you will need:
1 hinged frame, at least 5x7 for a one-year-old. For older children, you might like a larger size.
(Hinged frames were difficult to find last year before Christmas. I ended up buying matching 5x7 frames instead.)
1 package of air-drying clay
(The pic shows a large package, but one small package should be plenty for a 5x7 size. You can find different colors. I recommend white or ecru color, but a pale pink would be sweet for a baby girl.)
Rolling pin
Waxed paper
Marking pen
Acid-free pen
Exact-O knife, or craft knife (not shown)
Cutting surface (not shown)

1. You will need a guide to show you how big to make the clay tablet. The backing part of the frame is a great choice. First, you want to use this to mark a rectangular area on a piece of waxed paper. The area should be an inch bigger than your guide on all sides.

2. Turn the waxed paper over so the marking is on the bottom. You do not want to get ink on the clay. Make sure your waxed paper surface is very clean. You don't want little dust pieces and lint anywhere.

3. Take a lump of air-dry clay and roll out on the waxed paper to about 1/4 inch thickness. You do not have to make a perfect rectangle, but make sure all corners are covered. You are going to trim this later.

4. This is the time to put the child's hand on for the handprint. I do not have any tricks here. This may take two or three tries with a little one, so be patient. It helps have someone help you distract the child. You will want to gently press on their hand to make sure you get good contact with all the fingers. Try to keep your pressure over a large area, rather than each finger individually. Small children have flexible joints, you won't be hurting them, but if you hyperextend their finger joints, the print will look funny.

(In this picture, I have trimmed the edges of the clay. That is not necessary, this clay shrinks a bit and it is also very easy to trim when dry.)

5. Wash the child's hands first, then let him go play, while you touch up the clay. You might need to lightly rub to erase stray fingerprints and knicks from the little struggle you just had. I even had to rub out the area where his shirt cuff pressed into the clay. My non-imprinted surface did not end up being paper-smooth. It was slightly bumpy-textured, but this looked fine.

6. Set the clay aside to dry. The clay will shrink a bit, this is why you rolled it out bigger than necessary. The clay also will want to curl up. About every eight hours, I would flip the clay over, so that it wouldn't curl too far one way. It might take two days for the clay to completely dry.

7. When the clay is completely dry, lay it face-up on a cutting surface. Take the guide that you used in the first step, and use it to tell you where to trim the edges of the clay. The Exact-O knife is a good tool here, and you might want to use a straight-edge to make it easier.

8. Use that acid-free pen to mark the child's name and age on the back of the clay. Don't forget to do this, this is a keepsake that will last.

9. Remove the glass from one side of the hinged frame if you haven't done that already. Repurpose it, you won't need it for this project. Place the clay tablet in the frame and replace the backing to hold it in. Put a recent photo of the child in the other frame. You are done!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dermatologists again

I currently don't have teenagers, but I remember all to well those years in my life. One think I remember is my acne problems. I never had terrible problems, but I can find a couple of scars on my face that are little reminders of the skin problems I once had.

I tried many acne treatments, and I ended up going to a dermatologist where I was given a very expensive antibiotic, which cured the worst of the problems. From time to time, I still have a few adult acne spots, which are actually very different than the spots I used to have. I clear them up with Clean & Clear Persa-Gel. I have had the same small tube for five years, so you can see that my blemishes are not much of a problem.

One thing I have found, just keeping your face clean is not a deterrent for acne. I knew that in high-school, but there are still cosmetic salespeople who will tell you that if you will just clean your face with their products, your acne will magically disappear. This is hardly ever true. In fact, some of their products can make the problem worse if you happen to be allergic to the "all natural" botanicals and fragrances they use.

Simple Appliance Repair

A few years ago, the clock on my stove stopped working. I could have gotten by without it, I think, by using a kitchen timer. It was just a simple LED clock, it didn't have any connection to turn the oven on and off. However, I had gotten spoiled to having that clock in my kitchen. The best part was that it could be seen in the dark, and it was the only clock in that part of the house that could be seen at night.

Changing the electronics on your kitchen appliances is not as hard as you might think. I was nervous about it at first, but I wanted to see if it was simple to repair, as we didn't want to pay for a service call for something that didn't affect the function of the stove. I was able to remove the old clock by lifting the lid and removing a couple of screws. To find a new clock, I visited They have a very nice search function on their website that helps you find the parts you need, including pictures of each part so that you can make sure it matches.

When I received the part in the mail a few days later, it was easy to install. It just had a little plastic plug, I did not have to rewire anything.

I don't know how much a service call costs these days, but I am sure I saved about $75 dollars by doing the job myself.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Making Gifts and Learning

The kids will be making gifts again this year for family members.

Since our first unit this year will be Colonial America, we are going to incorporate some gift-making while we are learning. I think the colonial crafts we are looking at might make a good gifts.

One thing we are going to do is to make punched tin candleholders similar to these.

Another idea might be these framed silhouettes. I think a grandparent would love to have them, and I might need to have the kids make two a piece, so that I won't be envious!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Inline Comments

Having inline comments does one thing for you: it tells people to comment!

Blogger will now allow you to have inline comments. Inline comments are basically the little comment box that is open at the bottom of this post, if you are viewing it alone and not on a page with several of my latest posts. If you came here from Rocks in My Dryer, you should be able to see it. If not, just click the title of the post and it will take you to a page with just this post.

Having inline comments does one thing for you: it tells people to comment! It is just one less step they have to take when they are already landing on the individual post, and it works!

You can find out all about how to make your Blogger blog have inline comments at BlogU, on this post. She explains it all much better than I could. If you use Blogger, you might want to go ahead and bookmark BlogU, because she always has great tips but doesn't intimidate us non-techie bloggers. I also found out how to do the little pullquote up at the top of this post by reading her tutorial. For more great tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Funday Joke - Shrinking

A man rushed into the doctor's office and shouted, "Doctor! I think I'm shrinking!!" The doctor calmly responded, "Now, settle down. You'll just have to be a little patient."

Saturday, July 26, 2008


A few weeks ago, my mom saw a weird-looking freckle on my face, and recommended I get a doctor to look at it. I had seen what she was talking about, I think it is just an "age spot." I was putting a fade cream on it to see if I could get rid of it, but she is probably right. I need to ask a professional.

I decided to go straight to a dermatologist, since I thought my family doctor would just send me on to one anyway. I found our list of providers on our health insurance and called the first one on the list. I guess it is still good to have a last name that starts with "A."

I made an appointment with him for next month. Since then, someone said they knew of him and he was supposed to be really good. My method for finding a dermatologist was probably not the best. How do you find a good one? Do you need to find one that is good at your particular problem, like skin spots or acne problems?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fetus Friday: The Dirty Truth

I started reading this cool girl's blog and she and her roommate are wanting baby advice since roomie is expecting a baby soon. I know can give advice on baby stuff!

In answer to the question, "Is is okay to stock up on diapers?" Yes, most definitely. I don't think it is that common to be allergic. It is common for people to be super picky. "Oh, we only get Huggie$ $upreme, becau$e they fit $o well!" You will go through so many, just get the cheapest and be happy! If you plan to breastfeed, the diapers are going to leak anyway. Always have a change of clothes with you, and you'll be fine.

And I mean clothes for the baby, and clothes for you. Try to imagine why I would say that!

Here is my free advice: Since you are near the end of the pregnancy and it is the hot summertime, you may find that you have a craving for ice. Most likely, this is just because you can't really get cool, but it can possibly mean that you are low on iron. So make sure they have checked your iron levels lately, and take the supplement if they recommend it, no matter how inconvenient the side-effects are!

With my first, I was anemic and taking a supplement, but it wasn't building me back up fast enough. I would stop on my way home from work and buy two plain snowcones with no syrup. I would eat one snowcone immediately, and put the other in the freezer for after dinner! I later found out that the ice craving was a symptom of anemia.

It doesn't hurt to eat ice, though. Get the crushed kind instead of the hard kind, because chewing it is bad for your teeth.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Get the fly, everytime!

Three years ago, I went to a conference. For part of the conference, I was seated at a table with a mild-mannered, middle-aged, male social worker and a couple of ladies. We were all strangers, trying to engage in polite conversation. Suddenly, the social worker stirred things up by swatting and killing a bothersome fly with his BARE HAND! We were astounded! He politely excused himself to go and wash his hands, and when he came back, we were full of questions. Did he have special training? Was he born with this ability? How could this be accomplished?

He quietly explained that he had heard that flies have to take-off backward, so when you swat them, you must aim behind them. Since he had learned this, he was able to almost always get them on the first try.

I am not brave enough to swat one with my bare hand, but now I do aim the flyswatter behind them. I have to say that I have rarely missed one by doing this. It is so much quicker to get them on the first try!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Freezer Alarm

Last year after I lost my freezer contents when the door was left slightly ajar, I purchased a freezer alarm. It saved us last night by letting us know that the door had been left open a small crack. Nothing had happened to the food, except for a tiny layer of condensation that had frozen over a few things on the top shelf.

There is a little sensor that attaches inside the freezer near the back. A little wire runs out and the alarm unit sticks to the outside of the freezer. This unit is preset so that when the temperature inside the freezer rises above 15 degrees, the alarm goes off. It is battery-operated, so it would work in a power-failure.

This type of alarm works best for a separate freezer unit. I don't think most freezers that are attached to a refrigerator get cold enough for it to work. It can be switched off during the times when you are defrosting.

Our freezer is in the garage, and we could easily hear the alarm inside the house. The wire is small, but it does leave a tiny gap in the seal of the freezer. We think it is worth the small loss of energy.

Burgess Books Online

Here is a list I have compiled of all the Thornton Burgess books I could find that are available for free online.

If you have read any of the Burgess stories, I know you have fallen in love with the little characters. We always look forward to hearing about nosy Peter Cottontail, mischievous Sammy Jay, and wise Grandfather Frog. For me, the best thing about them is reading them aloud. The dialog is charming, and I love doing the different voices.

I know that Ambleside Online curriculum recommends some of them, as do other homeschool curricula. They are wonderful stories which teach morals and values while exploring the world of wildlife.

The majority of the Burgess books that you can find online are at There are a few more out there, however, that are not included on Gutenberg. Most of these are not available in text format, because they are scanned images. They do include the color illustrations by Harrison Cady.

Burgess books on
Bugess Bedtime Stories from an old calendar.
The Adventures of Peter Rabbit
Bobby Coon’s Mistake
A Great Joke on Jimmy Skunk
The Neatness of Bobby Coon
A Merry Coasting Pary
Paddy’s Surprise Visitor
The Three Bears
Reddy Fox’s Sudden Engagement
Grandfather Frog Stays in the Smiling Pool
A Robber Meets His Match
Peter Rabbit Proves a Friend
Young Flash the Deer

Additional Link: Podcast of Old Mother West Wind by Lori K. Brooke. There are audio versions of some of the Burgess books available at and, but I wanted to share these because they are different, and not as easy to find. The woman reading them has a grandmotherly, sweet voice, and there is background music added which gaves them a relaxing, bedtime feel.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Memory Work Idea

A friend shared this idea for memory work with me: When memorizing a passage, start with the last phrase first. This actually works very well. I have not tried it when memorizing a very long passage, such as a chapter in the Bible, or an entire poem, but if you are learning two or three Bible verses at a time, it makes it easier.

For instance, look at this passage:
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Start out saying, "Jeremiah twenty-nine eleven through thirteen," to yourself. When you have that, you can add, "Seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13." That is pretty easy, so add, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Keep going back, phrase by phrase, until you have the whole thing.

My friend explained a couple of reasons why this works. The first thing she told me is that you will know the end of the verse better than the first, so when you repeat the verse from the beginning, you will grow more confident as you go along. This helps with anxiety and stress. I believe this is true whether or not you are saying the passage to another person or not. The anxiety is a more internal anxiety rather than just a "performance" anxiety.

Another reason is that often the main point or the most important point is contained in the end. It helps to know the point that you are working towards. In the example I gave, you could probably argue against that, so here is a better example:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

Here, "that it may benefit those who listen" is the point of the verse, it is the logical conlusion. If you have the last phrase secure in your mind, the first part makes more sense.

Please share any ideas you know that help when memorizing short or long passages.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Funday Joke - Vultures

Two vultures board an airplane; each is carrying two dead raccoons ...

... The stewardess looks at them and says, "I'm sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nutrition Unit Study Question

This is another post where I am questioning something. Any opinions are welcome.

When putting together a unit study on nutrition, would you include information on methods that people use for weightloss? I am talking about crash dieting, counting calories, exercise, and even diet pills such as Phentermine?

My kids are too young for this, really. I guess I am just thinking of the future, when they are older. My thought is just that you would be able to explore those topics more scientifically, instead of them being exposed to them in the real world through a friend or an advertisement. I suppose it would be something like drug education.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wart Treatment

Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away works great for us! My 9-year-old daughter had a wart on her finger. We saw this at the store and decided to give it a try before going to the doctor. It was very easy to use, did not hurt much, (per her report, and she is a weenie about pain!) we only had to do it once, and in less than two weeks, the wart was gone! 'Nuff said.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Living Math Monday: Anno's Magic Seeds

We read a second book by Mitsumasa Anno, called Anno's Magic Seeds. It is another good living book, and I recommend it. Mr. Anno has written several more books, and we are going to check into them soon. I might have to just give them a blanket recommendation if they are all as good as the two we have read.

In Anno's Magic Seeds, a man named Jack is given two seeds. One seed, he is told, will feed him for a year. He is to plant the other seed, and he will grow a plant with two more seeds on it. This way, he can be self-sustaining.

He soon figures out that he can improve things if he saves both seeds one year, and plants two seeds. So he finds some other way to eat for a year, so that in the spring he can plant two seeds. The following year, he has three seeds to plant (after eating one of course.)

This book very simply explores the concept of planting and harvest, showing the geometric pattern of increase each year. The watercolor pictures are beautifully simple. Again, this appears to be a simple picture book, but the concepts are much deeper. It would be appropriate for any elementary-aged child.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cold coffee

I put this up a few weeks ago, but I'm reposting because it is so hot. Who wants real coffee? This is fun for those of us who have espresso machines.
Basic recipe:
½ cup of fresh espresso
2 ½ cups of milk (reconstituted powdered milk works fine)
¼ cup sugar (adjust to taste. This is pretty sweet.)

Place in refrigerator to chill. Adding hot espresso to 2 ½ cups of cold milk just doesn’t cut it. You really need to chill it. If you are in a hurry, you could serve it over ice, but it gets watered down a bit.

For a mocha cappucino: add a pinch of cocoa.
For a vanilla cappucino: add a few drops of vanilla.
For a mint cappucino: add a drop or two of peppermint extract, and a drop or two of vanilla.

Funday Joke - Pet

This guy was lonely and so he decided life would be more fun if he had a pet.

He went to the pet store and told the owner that he wanted to buy an unusual pet. After some discussion, he finally bought a centipede, which came in a little white box to use for his house.

He took the box back home, found a good location for the box, and decided he would start off by taking his new pet to the bar to have a drink. Then he asked the centipede in the box, "Would you like to go to Frank's with me and have a beer?" But there was no answer from his new pet.

This bothered him a bit, but he waited a few minutes and then asked him again, "How about going to the bar and having a drink with me?" But again, there was no answer from his new friend and pet. So he waited a few minutes more, thinking about the situation. He decided to ask him one more time; this time putting his face up against the centipede's house and shouting, "Hey, in there! Would you like to go to Frank's place and have a drink with me?

A little voice came out of the box "I heard you the first time! I'm putting on my shoes."