Saturday, August 26, 2006


I have added some Favorite Resources and some of Our Family's Favorite Reads on the right in the sidebar. I will add things there on occasion, but I had some fun putting that together this morning and thought I would share. What are your family's favorite reading books? What do you feel is worth your time and money or something you would buy again?


Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sweetness from Mr. Manly

My dear sweet husband heard a song and thought of me. It made me laugh to hear it and the words are just so sweet and funny. I thought I would share it because I know all you at-home moms would understand. You can hear a snippet of it at the link below. Thanks, honey.


Mr. Mom


Lost my job, came home mad
Got a hug and kiss and that's too bad
She said I can go to work until you find another job
I thought I like the sound of that
Watch TV and take long naps
Go from a hand working dad to being Mr. Mom


Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer
Crayons go up one drawer higher
Rewind Barney for the fifteenth time
Breakfast, six naps at nine
There's bubble gum in the baby's hair
Sweet potatoes in my lazy chair
Been crazy all day long and it's only Monday
Mr. Mom


Football, soccer and ballet
Squeeze in Scouts and PTA
And there's that shopping list she left
That's seven pages long
How much smoke can one stove make
The kids won't eat my charcoal cake
It's more than any maid can take
Being Mr. Mom


Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer
Crayons go up one drawer higher
Rewind Barney for the sixteenth time
Breakfast, six naps at nine
There's bubble gum in the baby's hair
Sweet potatoes in my lazy chair
Been crazy all day long and it's only Monday


Before I fall in bed tonight
If the dog didn't eat the classifieds
I'm gonna look just one more time


Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer
Crayons go up one drawer higher
Rewind Barney for the eighteenth time
Breakfast, six naps at nine
There's bubble gum in the baby's hair
Sweet potatoes in my lazy chair
Been crazy all day long
Oh been crazy all day long and it's only Monday


Balancin' checkbooks, juggling bills
Thought there was nothing to it
Baby, now I know how you feel
What I don't know is how you do it

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why I don't like Saxon

A commenter from my last post asked why I don't like Saxon so here are my answers. Thanks for asking! This was originally written in response to a question that was asked on a Yahoo Group I am on that asked why Cathy Duffy did not recommend early Saxon.

I can tell you why I think she does not list it and instead lists MathUSee. Math is a language that must be learned in the same way reading is. Saxon does not do this. It is not a mastery program, but is a rote memory, spiral program that does not offer true understanding of the language of math. Saxon was written for public schools that do not slow their teaching for those students who are not getting it. Your children will not learn the “why” of math, and there certainly is a “why” to it. Saxon encourages you to push on when your child does not understand a concept with the assumption that they will “get it” when they see it enough. This is the philosophy behind all Saxon products. This will work ONLY if your child is instinctively very math-oriented in their brain from the get-go. Most of us do not have that luxury. Even if you think your child does think this way, it is my humble opinion that this is no way to teach young concrete-oriented children math. They must see it, feel it, and understand it. The only program I have ever seen that does all these things is MathUSee.


In my opinion, MUS will give you everything that Saxon will not. It is a complete mastery program in that you do not move on until your child(ren) understand it and can then explain it to you when called to do so. It is concrete, explicit, interesting, and understandable to those who really have struggled in this area. As a homeschooling mom for seven years I have seen many math programs (and so, unfortunately, has my eldest) and the only one that ever communicated true understanding of math concepts has been MUS. I will also go so far as to say that the majority of families that I have had contact with that are struggling in elementary math are using Saxon. My oldest was able to go all the way through Saxon 65 without truly understanding anything she did! What kind of teaching is that? Now we are working our way back through some of the concepts that she was “taught” by Saxon via MUS and she is thriving! She finally understands math and it is no longer a struggle. My two younger ones understand all their concepts too--math is no longer a dreaded subject.


So I actually feel that early Saxon can be a big negative and I could not recommend it in good conscience.

Probably more than you really asked for, huh? I do appreciate the question though. Oh, and for those of you wondering, no, I don't work for MUS! :+)





Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Carmon Meme

1) One homeschooling book you have enjoyed:

You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully, by Ruth Beechick. She is just very real and down to earth and encouraging.


2) One resource you wouldn’t be without:
I would have to say the same answer as Carmon, our personal library.  Too many rich books to give up! :+)


3) One resource you wish you had never bought:
Saxon Math.


4) One resource you enjoyed last year:
Christine Miller’s, The Story of the 13 Colonies, from Nothing New Press. It was absolutely fascinating to learn the founding of our nation in such a thorough and interesting way. 


5) One resource you will be using next year:

Mystery of History, Volume 1  We are looking forward to the Ancients again. :+)


6) One resource you would like to buy:
Just more reading books!


7) One resource you wish existed:
A robot servant who will clean and cook when I wish and do the laundry for me.


8) One homeschooling catalog you enjoy reading:
Veritas Press and Rainbow Resource—sorry, can’t leave that one out!


9) One homeschooling website you use regularly:
The Well Trained Mind


10) Tag five people to do this meme:
Please leave a comment and let me know you would like to be tagged! :+)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Movie Round-up and Small Funny of a Husbandish Nature

My husband just came up with a great term. Knowing, as he does, as any fine homeschool dad should, that "twaddle" is a known term for "foolish, trivial, idle talk or chatter" or in the world of books available for children, not-so-much like a great book. :+)


OK, so here is the funny (at least to me).  He called movies, like the current top-charter, Snakes on a Plane, Cinema Twaddle. Not that he has seen it, but that he imagines it would be. Now I really like that term and will use it for all future idiotic movies we will see here in our home. And, unfortunately, there will be some! LOL!

Not this week though. We have recently seen some very interesting titles. Sent to us via our Blockbuster.com (rival in full force with Netflix) or garnered from the brick and mortar, Blockbuster: Glory Road, Eight Below, Ladder 49Memoirs of a Geisha, and MiddlemarchMemoirs was a little rough to watch, but was a very interesting film. I am even a little hesitant to tell you all we watched it because some might think it was REALLY bad and it wasn't. Just super weird, and beautiful, and tragic, and godless. OK, well that sounds GREAT, doesn't it. Hmmm. Cinema Twaddle? No, not at all, but there are some difficult scenes and this is not a movie for children or sensitive adults or those not quick with the fast forward button on the remote. OK, I think I covered all of that. Cough, choke--what will y'all think? :+)


Glory Road was a great film. It really dealt with the whole issue of racism in sports in the 60's, and didn't gloss over it, but yet it was not the total sum of the movie. This is a basketball team movie, which I don't normally like (not being much of a sports gal, I am afraid), but I really did like this one. There are some serious scenes of racial hate that are present so if you show it to your children, either watch it first or show it to your older children who understand these issues as best as can be expected. I highly recommend it.


Ladder 49 was an intense movie about firemen and the life in the firehouse. It was a real tribute to what these men endure and what their families also endure. I was crying at the end for sure. It is a powerful thing firemen do and I am grateful. It is post-9-11, and in the special features it talks a bit about the respect firemen have received since then. It is just too bad it took so many such a tragedy to see it. This movie is not for the faint of heart and has some difficult images.


Eight Below was a sweet family film with a very light romance. For those who love the snow, love dogs, love the bottom of the world, you will love this movie. There are some animal deaths in it so be prepared to comfort your smallish people. We had one who was very very sad, but the ending was happy so that made up for it all. The filming was beautiful and the dogs were superb actors--better than the humans. :+)


Middlemarch is one of those glorious mini-series that last and last. It was something like five or six hours. Having made my way through the book of the same name I invested some of my hard-earned money and bought it, sight-unseen. I never do that, but how can a clean period piece be bad, right? Well, it was a good gamble. The acting was good, the costumes were good, the characters were as well fleshed-out as one can expect in a series of that nature.  Some better and more thoroughly than others I will admit, but on the whole a very enjoyable adaptation to George Eliot's book. I highly recommend it.


As you already know I am awaiting Bleak House, but the first disk has a "Long Wait" according to Blockbuster. The second and third do not. Can someone explain that to me?


So there you go, our movie round-up. With Blockbuster.com they just keep coming in. It is kind of like a never-ending flood of Cinema Twaddle OR Cinema Grandeur.  We really do enjoy movies here, can you tell?

Current Mind Mints

Well, I have finally finshed:

834010: Bleak HouseBleak House
By Charles Dickens, Stephen Gill / Oxford University Press


What a colossal work! It took me quite a while to get into it, plodding through the maze that is sometimes Dickens' descriptive writing, but it was worth it! What a bunch of twists and turns and ultimately, a really interesting story. I now look forward to viewing the mini-series version. That is a reward I try to reserve for myself for accomplishing any work I read that has a corresponding movie verstion. :+) It also helps me finish a title I at first wondered why I bought. I would love to know the word count of this book. I feel as though I read an encyclopedia were I to know the real number. :+) 


I also finished, as much as I could,  Created to Be His Helpmeet, but my feelings are so contradictory on it that I don't wish to discuss it much, and I do not really want to get into any discussion about it in the comments---pro or con. You are welcome to email me if you have any thoughts on the matter yourself. Suffice it to say that while I learned some wonderful truths in it, there was so much that troubled me that I can not recommend it.


Now, I am upwards and onwards to one of my favorite works of fiction, and one in which I have reversed the Order of Things as They Ought to Be. I own and really enjoy Elizabeth Gaskell's, Wives and Daughters, in DVD format.  I am breaking tradition and reading the book after the movie. I would not even have known of Mrs. Gaskell were it not for the movie and now there are many Gaskell works I am itching to read! So, there you have what is on the plate for late-night reading. And let me tell you this book is a WHOLE lot easier and much more enjoyable than Mr. Dickens'! No offense, old man, no offense. To be sure!


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Science Chatter

I have been having a very interesting conversation with Jessica and she asked me what I have used for science. So this was my response and figured I would just share it here. It helps me to remember too that we are doing things here in our house! :+)

We have used many Usborne books on the various subjects we have covered. We also use My Body and made life-size bodies on the wall. We did a huge 7' x 4' wall poster of all the different animals groups with cut-out or printed out, off the net, animals. That was really fun and fascinating and we studied them as we searched for them--what is a mollusk? What is an echinoderm? What is a fish? Is a shark a fish? Etc. As I made the children identify and classify them, we glued them to the poster in their groups. We have done rock study with the book, Geology Rocks, that includes instructions for various hands-on experiments.


I will be honest and say that I do not follow the WTM science scope because I just think it is overkill. I don't think younger children need heavy science study--unless they have a specific interest in it in the early years. From what I have read, in times past science was a rhetoric stage study. I think we do it now because of state regulations. I would still only stick to interesting, hands-on science topics while they are young and leave the heavy study until they are much older. A young child cannot really relate to the more cerebral science studies. They are much more likely to understand and be interested in what they can see; animals, human body, bugs, weather, rocks, earth study, stars, ocean, etc.


To me this fits with the idea of learning with the Trivium. Grammar - seeing, feeling, touching, concrete understanding, memorizing, learning hands-on. Logic - questioning, learning ideas and the "whys" behind things. Rhetoric - ability to understand and then explain the whys. To me, the kinds of science younger children do well fit the Grammar stage. For younger ones, I just always suggest hands-on, concrete science topics. There is not a whole lot of chemistry that is like that, you know?


I did the workbookish science and it was lackluster and boring. However, when I showed them from Geology Rocks how melted sugar (representing molten lava) when cooled fast (in the freezer) has no time to form crystals so it looks an awful lot like obsidian or when you make rock candy slowly it has a lot of time to form crystals so it looks like granite--then they got it. Then volcanos came alive and the study of rock formation was interesting. AND they could eat the rocks they had made! :+)


I hope what I am saying makes sense. I am not saying not to do science, but to be selective in how you do it, what subjects, and how you teach it.

And that, folks, is what I think. :+)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

New Year Ants

Do you ever just get antsy to get on to another thing? I don't necessarily mean a new curriculum, although I have been awfully guilty of that too. We have been studying American History for a while (all last year and part of the summer). It is our first time all the way though it and it has been wonderful thanks to Christine Miller's work. We have also read a lot of fantastic historical fiction and learned so much. We are entering the Civil War/War Between the States and have started reading out loud, Across Five Aprils, which is already intriguing to us--I can see why it won the Newbery Honor Book Award. We are jumping into this again because by golly, we *will* finish American History. 


However, I am starting to feel antsy again to get back to the Ancients! I cannot understand myself except to say that I am excited to start using Mystery of History, Volume 1. Now I never thought I would even do something like that because it just did not sound like me. That is until I ran into Maggie Hogan in Florida. Now that I understand how it works I am really excited to "get back there" again. There are so many great historical fiction books for that time too and the MOH has this really marvelous timeline thingy in it. Well, now you see what I mean when I say I am getting antsy!


We *are* really enjoying American History and I know that we will be sorry to end it. Even writing what we are reading now has me motivated again, but I think we are going to pick up the pace a bit. There is just so much history to cover in one lifetime! 

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Truth is stranger than fiction


She's Her Own Twin

Two Women Don't Match Their Kids' DNA -- It's a Medical Mystery

ABC News


Aug. 15, 2006 — Lydia Fairchild was a proud mother who faced the most unusual of challenges. She had to fight in court to prove the children born from her body were her own. "I knew that I carried them, and I knew that I delivered them. There was no doubt in my mind," Fairchild said.


Fairchild's fight for her kids began when she was 26-years-old, unemployed and applying for public assistance in Washington state. Everyone in her family had to be tested to prove they were all related.


The Department of Social Services called Fairchild and told her to come in immediately. What Fairchild thought was a routine meeting with a social worker turned into an interrogation. The proud mother was suddenly a criminal suspect.
The rest of the story.)

As my dear friend shared with me, "It is also a good reminder that science is fallible." I could not agree more. We do not have all the mysteries of life figured out yet, even in the 21st century. Lest we think we are wiser than God, it is a good reminder that we are not. Hug your children again today, and praise God you don't have to deal with this "social service" agency!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Why we homeschool

I read a Christian women's board every now and then and someone posted a question: What are the main reasons you homeschool? I had not given that much thought for a while because when you are in it you don't always stop and think about why you are in it--because you just are! So I gave it some time and this is what I came up with.

1. Because we believe it is God's best for the family.
2. Because we know our children's needs and abilities.
3. Because we can meet our children's needs and abilities.
4. Because we love our children more than anyone save God.
5. Because we just love being together!
6. Because our children can excell where God wishes them to.
7. Because it keeps the family as the primary social unit.
8. Because the public schools are not where covenant children should be.
9. Because we teach what is true, beautiful, and Biblical.
10. Because there is no other way for us.

Those are my top 10. What are yours?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Help Wanted

UPDATE: Thank you all for contacting me! I have received more than I can handle at this point so I am going to close the open positions now. Thank you!!


Hello my fine fellow blog readers. I am doing something rather unusual here so I hope you bear with me!


As some of you know I work with The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine as the Product Reviews Manager. We receive a lot of different products, books, curriculum, toys, games, etc. on a regular basis from all sorts of companies and I have a group of fellow homeschool families that test and review the items when they come in. Then one of the parents writes the review and sends it to me. You get to keep anything you review.


What I am looking for are a few new families, with a parent that can write a balanced review, that are willing to work with us. If you are interested, please email me at underthesky@gmail.com and I will send you more information. :+) There isn't much--just some information that explains the procedure, time frame, requirements, etc. I will also ask, after you read what I have to send you, to write a sample review for us of one of your own products based upon our instructions. If this sample is accepted you will be notified and added to our group of reviewers.


I hope to hear from you!




PS: Oh, and in case you are wondering just why I have not blogged in a while, my home life as well as my job have taken up too much of my time! I hope to be back blogging soon.

Monday, August 07, 2006

X-rays reveal Archimedes' hidden writings

I love stories like this. They are positive results of modern technology. It will be wonderful to see what Archimedes had to say in his original writings when they are able to read it!

X-rays reveal Archimedes' hidden writings
Particle accelerator helps decipher fragile 10th century manuscript
AP Updated: 5:26 a.m. PT Aug 7, 2006


SAN FRANCISCO - Previously hidden writings of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes are being uncovered with powerful X-ray beams nearly 800 years after a Christian monk scrubbed off the text and wrote over it with prayers.


Over the past week, researchers at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park have been using X-rays to decipher a fragile 10th century manuscript that contains the only copies of some of Archimedes' most important works.


The X-rays, generated by a particle accelerator, cause tiny amounts of iron left by the original ink to glow without harming the delicate goatskin parchment.


"We are gaining new insights into one of the founding fathers of western science," said William Noel, curator of manuscripts at Baltimore's Walters Art Museum, which organized the effort.  "It is the most difficult imaging challenge on any medieval document because the book is in such terrible condition."
(The rest of the story found here.)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Advanced Neandertal?

From the Answers in Genesis e-Newsletter:


Q: How could Neandertal Man be too advanced for evolution?


A: In southern France, they found evidence of human habitation hundreds of feet deep within a cave. What makes this find so important is that it was dated as the earliest sign of humans in Europe. Only the Neandertals were thought to have inhabited Europe at that time.


What they found in the cave was astonishing for such “primitive” people. They found a “complex quadrilateral artificial structure consisting of specially arranged pieces of stalactite and stalagmite.” They also found a piece of burned bear bone.


But here’s the problem: the items were so deep in the cave, that the people would’ve had to have some kind of artificial light, such as a fire, torch or lamp. Also, the structure they found was so complex, it would have required the builders to be able to communicate with each other.


Such language skill and technological know-how doesn’t fit with evolutionary ideas about Neandertals. However, it does fit with the creationist understanding—they were descended from Noah after the Flood.

To read more about how recent Neandertal evidence increasingly supports the biblical position, see Neandertal Man—the changing picture.

God is so awesome!

Friday, August 04, 2006

VHE Conference Round-up

Some people add a shimmer and a glow to my life. Some people add depth, laughter, fun and meaning. These people are two of them:


Moi, Diane, and Heather


I was privileged to spend the full two days with them--and even room with them for lots of laughter and good conversation at the VHE Conference in Modesto.


There is so much to share that I don't know where to begin. It was ten times smaller than the FPEA Conference, but that did not mean it was ten times less interesting. It was certainly more manageable for the attendees! (Including me.)


Susan Wise Bauer was there and, as always, displayed her charming and lovely self. We three enjoyed a wonderful dinner with her and some marvelous conversation. I appreciate her mind and heart a great deal and she is just so funny! I only wish she lived closer than Virginia!


We also were thrilled to enjoy a really wonderful time with Diana Waring and her husband over dinner the second night. She was kind enough to share with Heather and I some of her life experiences and to gently encourage us in our family life. It was really so precious and her heart for the family is so, well, heartening! :+)


We also got to meet some really wonderful ladies in person, Lisa and Kendra, as well as catch up on some older friendships that have long been missed. What wonderful people! I only wish I lived next door to all of them. :+)


It was really wonderful to meet some of the vendors we have never met face to face and to see some new faces. Beautiful Feet Books' Russ Berg was there and he was a delightful intelligent man. They publish some of the most wonderful books (and some of which I got to take home to review!) The Old Schoolhouse Magazine will be featuring some of their books in future issues so you can keep an eye out or check them out on their website.


We were blessed to meet Diane Taylor with P. E. for Children Schooled at Home. I hope she has a website soon because she was so wonderful and had a heart for the health of homeschool children. She was so neat! peisfun@earthlink.net is her email if you want more information on her program.


Adam Adams from Teaching the Classics From Seuss to Socrates--Literary Analysis for Everyone was also there and he is a true gentleman. His product is making the rounds onto many vendor tables and it makes me wonder what it is all about! (Someone else is reviewing it for TOS so I guess I will just have to wait and read it!)


Steve Clark was there and I just have to say he is so warm and funny. Heather was the one who did the thorough review of VideoText's new Geometry program so they chatted "MATH" quite a bit. She was a happy camper as she is my math-smart friend. :+) I only wish I knew as much as she!


For those of you who love unit studies, Jennifer Steward from Steward Ship was there and had so many neat units available! Look for a future post on one of her daughters in the near future!


Whew! And there were so many more people there with so much to share with us. I really recommend attending a conference if you can. I never thought this before, but I am a believer now. They really are so beneficial for encouragment and vision.


That's my wrap for now!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

4-Year-Old Conjoined Twins Prepare for Separation Surgery

I am just popping in to share this prayer request I read about on Foxnews.com. It is very dangerous and the girls run some very real risks. Please pray for them. You can read more about these sweet little girls HERE. If they were mine I sure would appreciate all the prayers out there.

An update post on the conference will be forthcoming. I am just too busy to get to it right now! It was a wonderful event and there will be much to share!