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.