Friday, September 18, 2009

And another September Begins...

So here we find ourselves again! I love September - the scents, the colors, all things fall. This year we have five children in our homeschool. All five! I have 9th, 7th, 5th, 3rd, and 1st graders this year. (!!) It is the first full year for Emma and this year she will learn to read in earnest. She knows her sounds, but we are working diligently at mastering it. I will be very happy when all my children are reading. It is a milestone of growth and development for me - like potty training! :+)

My two oldest are on the trip of their lives for ten days to Washington DC and Virginia with my mother and her husband. They are seeing places I have never seen before and their trip has been wonderful so far. It has been a joy to talk to them at the end of every day because their excitement and wonder at what they are experiencing is palpable. Today they will visit Colonial Williamsburg. I think it will be one of the highlights of their visit! They both loved Monticello and both purchased things to bring home from there. They chose things totally congruent with their personalities - one chose garden seeds and one chose a book about Jefferson's books. Those of you who know them will know which is which!

We have begun our homeschooling in earnest with the younger three. We are using some new curricula choices this year and so far they have been big hits. Writing Tales II is something John is using for writing and grammar and I am very pleased with the way the program is working thus far. I love the way the author communicates the information to the student and I really like the "Tales" she has chosen. John just finished writing, in his own words, the first one by Aesop, "The Bundle of Sticks." It is a very worthwhile program. John is also going to be using (as soon as it arrives from Rainbow Resource) Building Spelling Skills. This will be a "first try" for us with this program, but I loved the table of contents and I hope we love the book too. :+)

He is also using a cursive handwriting/copywork program from LightHome Publications. Since he is studying animals of the 6th day this year for science, I am having him do their A-Z Exotic Animals. He has really been enjoying it and I am pleased with the wide variety of different animals they chose for this book. The sample at the link gives you a good idea of what is included in the download. I discovered this company some time ago and really do love their handwriting/copywork books. I have used several of them thus far over the last year.

Land Animals of the Sixth Day: Exploring Creation with Zoology 3 is the science source we are using for John and Abigail's science. They are making this lapbook to go along with it. We have really loved using Jeannie Fulbright's books--and we learn so much in such an interesting manner! Abigail and John will also be using the intermediate level from Science Excursion. This is the neat curriculum I told you about when I came home from Modesto this July. What a fantastic company!

Math U See
is still our staple for early math. Emma began her MUS journey yesterday and we have lots to learn together. She tends to have a fatalistic mindset about school until she sees she *can* do it. I don't even know where that comes from, but by the end of the lesson she was showing me place values and was very happy with herself. :+)
That can be a trickly concept to understand, but she is slowly getting it.

The Mystery of History: The Renaissance, Reformation, and Growth of Nations, (1455-1707) Volume 3 will begin once the girls get home. I cannot wait! I love this time period and am really looking forward to learning Ren/Ref with Linda Hobar. Her book is just beautiful! We have learned so much and have truly *enjoyed* our history study with her two previous volumes, Mystery of History, Volume 1 and The Mystery Of History, Volume 2: The Early Church and the Middle Ages. I cannot recommend this series enough.

John has been joining Emma and Elizabeth on one of my "Ah HA!" journeys. Last year I was sharing with a dear friend Nancy, that if I could do it over again, I would do Beautiful Feet's Early American History. She pointed out that I *could* do it over again (so to speak) because I have two little ones! So we are reading almost all the wonderful books in this set and making their beautiful timeline and they are loving it! I am loving it too. So thank you, Nancy, for reminding me that some things can be do-overs. :+)

One of the best parts of our year is our weekly co-op. I am continually blessed by this group! We are studying a variety of subjects that at least our family always seemed to have a hard time getting to in the course of our homeschool life. Art and artists, music and composers, hymns, poetry, scripture, and geography are this year's subjects. You can follow our journey here as well find out all the resources we are using. Many of them are free online and ready to use! Our co-op is a small one, with only four families, but that makes it intimate and the children get to know each other well. I am also blessed to build relationships with the mamas!

Well, that is about all I can do for today. I just wanted to share a bit about our homeschooling this week. I will share more about what we are doing with the others in the future.

I hope your new year is going well! 

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Here I stand...

I can do no other - I oppose Obama's "Heathcare" scam on the entire population known as The American People--as so oft-quoted that I begin to dislike the phrase. Why does he think he speaks for all of us? He and the congress do not speak for me. Just a few reasons why I do not support it:

"The Democrats want to spend $1.5 trillion over a decade, impose an $800 billion tax increase in the midst of the worst recession in a generation, increase federal borrowing by $239 billion (on top of the $11 trillion the Obama budget already requires us to borrow through 2019), impose costly mandates on employers that will discourage hiring as unemployment nears 10 percent, force individuals to buy one-size-fits-all government defined insurance, and insert the government in countless new ways between doctors and patients. All of that would occur whether or not the plan includes a "public option," which at this point it does include and which will exacerbate all of these problems." (source)

Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans' Admin have proven that actual costs are horribly underestimated—these are examples of “Government Health Care” – Do you want to be cared for by these kinds of organizations? Do you want anything remotely like it?

As evidenced by other countries with socialized medicine, quality of care DOES suffer. Why do Canadians and Britons come here for their care?  It is so they will receive the best care in the world. Do we want that to go away?
US health care is the benchmark for innovation. Socialized medicine is a lesson in how to stifle innovation and quality of care. Again, I ask you - Why do Canadians and Britons come here for their care?

The only way to control costs in this system is to RATION care – WHO wants their care rationed?? Do you??

This rush to cram legislation down our throats in spite of public outcry against it is irresponsible and downright dangerous. Why is this administration forcing its ideas on a huge number of people who do not want it?? Does he speak for you?? This congress and president should stop forcing their version of the American Dream down our throats. This article details exactly the kind of non-American actions those in Washington are taking. It is wrong wrong wrong! We do not live in a socialist country where the government forces itself upon us!

I may be put on some sort of government list for opposing this change in our land, but I *do* oppose it and I think we should all know what we are getting into. This bill is 1018 pages long. How many of your representatives have even read it? How many different dangerous things could be interjected into that many *pages* of a bill? The Constitution, the founding document of our country, has only 4543 words in the original, unamended Constitution. This includes the signatures!! What are our representatives, led by this president, doing to our country?

There are always - always - other options than this monstrous bill and I oppose it. I hope you do too.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Neat Resources

I was poking around the internet looking for something that would demonstrate the hemispheres in a 3-D format and came across the following sites. I am continually amazed at what is out there for free. Truly. Here is the first: PaperCraft from Cannon. There are the most intricate and fascinating paper projects to make all for free download. The second is from the CA Department of Conservation. They offer Earth Science 3D Paper Models and Toys in the form of free downloadable and printable resources. Since we are going camping this week and will be close to the stars with no light around us I printed this out. How cool is that? Happy internet hunting!  

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just a quick note...

These folks sent me an email and I thought it was worth mentioning here. Remnant Books is a neat site that sells used books for some very good prices. I was surprised to find them for $1.50 or $2.00! That is a really good deal!

I just came back from the Valley Home Educators Conference in Modesto. The vibe was not quite the excited one that it was last year, but there was still a good amount of folks there and as always, a fantastic selection of delectable curriculum choices to peruse. I love that part of it. Surprisingly, even amidst my job of being surrounded by new curriculum on a regular basis, it still holds that "new book smell" for me and I love seeing the neat new things out there.

Science Excursion was my favorite discovery of the conference. I was able to bring home the level 4-6 and cannot wait to start it with the children! What a neat neat curriculum that covers all sorts of areas in a very hands-on manner. Check them out!

"To Be One" is the other product that I look forward to viewing. The producer was a very neat young man. This is an unusual take on getting-to-marriage relationships as it does not take one road and make it "God's Plan" for all. I really look forward to seeing it up close.

That's all for now! What are you planning for the next year? I am hoping to spend some time writing up my list of "will dos" for the next year. What about you?

Oh, and a note about our EarthBox experience--the review. :+)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Some Gave All

I want to honor this young man, killed in the prime of his life, by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. I didn't know him, but he was over there fighting on my behalf. He and his family gave all and I wanted to publicly thank them. I cannot thank their son face to face, so I will thank his family in this way. I cannot possibly know your suffering and your sacrifice, but I so very much appreciate it.

1st Lt. Brian N. Bradshaw

1st Lt. Brian N. Bradshaw, 24, of Steilacoom, Wash., died June 25 in Kheyl, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska. (Link)

Go with God.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yep, me again!

So I just got back from a wonderful trip to the WHO Conference in beautiful Washington State. I have never been there save for a layover one late night almost 20 years ago. It is really lush and gorgeous. You who live there, enjoy it! The weather was just amazing. As my travelling companion, Nancy, said, "It's weather!" As you might be able to tell, we don't have much of that here in CA. :D

We met some of the nicest folks with some neat products. I keep hearing about WriteShop and it is everything it says it is. I want to buy it for my Abigail because it will not only teach her how to write well, but it will enable me to know how to evaluate her writing. That is the thing I get stuck on and find myself saying, "Hey, that sounds good to me!" I would like some help determining what I might be missing in my grading. I like that. 

There were some new companies I met that I found to have worthwhile products. Some were art companies with interesting products that were perfect for the homeschooler and some had really good inexpensive math games.  This math game is aptly named; Wonder Number. I mean we kept saying, "Wow!" It is worth watching the video on their site. The Home Scholar is expanding their product line for high school/college prep and I think they have a real niche market worth exploring if you find yourself with high schoolers! :D

We were so blessed to be able to hear Mr. Steve Demme. He is Mr. Math U See, but he was not speaking on math. He is a former pastor and has a real heart for the family. What a blessing it was to hear him encourage moms and dads to love and good deeds towards one another to build their marriages. He offers his talks for free on his site here in the resources section.

I don't know why I never knew this, but I didn't so I thought you might not know it either and I found it really neat. I met the nicest man from Soundforth, BJU's music division. They have all sorts of sheet music for sale of the simple variety for the beginner to the advanced musician. Now my little can play "How Firm a Foundation" because it is in an easier format. It was one of the few things I purchased.

My flights were unexceptional and for that I lift up great praise!! We were blessed with minor turbulence, no dropping 800 feet in the air. (!!!!!!) It was difficult for me to leave and I even wrote a goodbye letter to my children. Can you tell I don't fly much? :D It was good for me to examine all of that though, and in some ways it was an act of faith to get on the plane. It made me realize too, that I find it very easy to pretend that life will go on as-is forever. It may not do that and I should always be taking stock of my life and always treat my children as if it was the last day we had together. I know that some of that will inevitably wear off, but not this week and I am grateful.

My older children were so helpful while I was gone and our backyard pergola over our patio is going up nicely under Mark's direction. John is helping all he can. It is a precious thing to see. Ours will look something like this, but not exactly as it butts up to the house and will throw more shade on the patio. We are planning to have grapes grow over it. Our amazing EarthBoxes are doing spectacularly. I mean WOW! Here are some shots:

We are harvesting a ton of zucchini and a bunch of cucumbers and we have seven cantaloupe on the vine ripening as well as watermelon, bush beans, honeydew, and tomatoes. It is *such* a rewarding way to garden!!

Reading lessons are going well! God is good. This is a hard job some days, this homeschooling thing, but it is so very worth it!

So what is new in your lives? 


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reason 4,795 to homeschool...

Reprogram my children? I don't think so. By God's grace we can homeschool *and* instruct our children on the truth of God's Word. There is a Truth that is unassailable.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

I praise God for His gift of faith!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Happy Praise

Sometimes this being a homeschool mom is hard work. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to accomplish something meaningful and important, but oh, is it worth it. We have had a real struggling reader here for some time and recently by the grace of God, an excellent recommendation from a dear friend in the same boat, and a wee bit of dedication have brought about fruits that are wonderful to behold. This is my new reader, Elizabeth, reading out loud a wonderful book from Yesterdays Classics called Reading Literature: The Primer, by Harriette Taylor Treadwell. She was reading to me with such excitement and delight - I was laughing with joy!

And here she is *after* we were done reading out loud - just reading for the *fun* of it. I thought it was hilarious that she set herself up on the kitchen counter with her pillow and just read away. She read half of the book in one sitting. I cannot tell you what relief, happiness, excitement and gratefulness to the Lord filled my heart. It was truly a monumental day. God is *so* good!

The curriculum suggested by a friend was not only amazing, but also totally free. This is the site that has a *lot* of reading help. It says it is for teaching children with dyslexia, but they have all sorts of resources for those with and without it. Elizabeth never had it, but I am sure grateful for the resources! The best part is at the bottom - the Downloadable Workbooks. Read the types of workbooks available and then copy the code and paste in the place it tells you to. (It is all very easy, actually) and then download to your computer. The one I used for Elizabeth was, Spell, Say, and Write--A Synthesis of the Phonics and Whole Word Systems: A Beginner's Workbook for School or Home Study. We didn't move on until she "got" the one she was working on. Redo and redo – that has been the key for us. :+)
I just had to share. This has been such an exciting time!

The book Elizabeth was reading is a wonderful book of real stories that increase in difficulty and have a lot of repetition to increase fluency. Here is the sample of the book with the table of contents. I really love this company and wanted to share it with you too. :+)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Taking a moment...

To share a few things that I am excited about today. Happy Saint Patrick's Day!! I am linking to a post that I did in the past, but I share it again because it is just such an incredible story of God's protection of His written word. I love reading things like this and the Book of Kells is one of my very favorites.

We are in the midst of making our fabulous "Irish" dinner and I try to share this recipe now and then, but especially this time of year. We are making it and will be *so* happy to enjoy it!

I discovered a new and absolutely lovely Celtic album called The Scroll by Medwyn Goodall. You cannot beat the MP3 price! :+) 

With the sun shining brightly and the breeze in the air, we could not have asked for a finer day. Thank you, Lord!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I love learning new things!

My brother has a son named Caedmon. Before Christmas I found a book that bore his name; Caedmon's Song. I gave them the book because how often, really, are you going to come across that name, right? :+) Well today in history we learned that the group, Caedmon's Call, took their name from this monk because he was gifted in the art of poetry/song. Tonight my brother told me they took the name from this group because they loved it. (And I love it too.) We gave him the book not knowing the whole circle and I just think that is so neat. :+)

Completely unrelated, but still neat, I also learned about Blackwork tonight. Wow, talk about beautiful! And wow, talk about time consuming! The samples on Wiki are amazing. Especially beautiful are the Elizabethan Era work. Just lovely!

I just love learning new things - some personal and some not, but I just love that I can, at the age of 38, be just as excited about learning something new as my children are at seeing a deer or a wild turkey on a nature walk. (Which we did see yesterday on our lovely nature adventure here.) Though truth me told, I was pretty excited about those things too. It was a perfect almost spring day. Green everywhere, hardly any pollen about to spoil it (though I did take a fake Clariton before embarking!) We walked on haphazard paths that meandered down to the American River. I was sad we didn't have our camera, but the memories are there for the keeping. Jack rabbits and squirrels were busy too and the nature center had live owls and opossum. It was a very worthwhile day.

Spring is already starting to come forth in its beautiful glory. The trees are everywhere in bloom. Some are just spectacular to behold. We have planted our first zucchini and are planning the rest of our garden. I am awaiting an EarthBox for review with great anticipation. With one box we will have to choose carefully what we put into it to see the best results. We are trying to utilize our small backyard space as best we can to produce as much as we can. We shall see! Spring is always a very exciting time around here. :+)

So, what are you learning about? What has you excited?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love this!

Oh, I tell you, if I could live a dual life of wife/mom as well as something else, it would have been an archeologist. This new discovery is *so* up my alley! I am sure that the life of an archeologist is often very dull, but wow, can you imagine happening upon something magnificent? Can you imagine discovering another Tutankhamun? I can only imagine what that must have been like. Or the Rosetta Stone? Or some wonderful Greek or Roman or Biblical treasure? What that must be like!

OK, back to my own reality - life is good. We are getting over some very odd colds and that is always good. We had John's birthday on Sunday and he is Mr. Bionicle. I don't know if any of you have sons that love Bionicles as much as my son, but it is a really enjoyable thing for him and he enjoys the books too. I cannot say whether they are terribly interesting or valuable reading, but he is enjoying them. I consider them "fun" reading as opposed to "quality" reading, as I do require him to read what I consider quality literature and then rotate to his "fun" reading. Spiderman comics fall into the fun category too. LOL He has eclectic taste from biographies of Abraham Lincoln and Kit Carson to the Children's Illustrated Ivanhoe. I used to be a total purist with regards to classics like Ivanhoe, but that is one tough book and I would not ever require him to read that at this age yet I knew he would love the story done in a children's version. He *loved* it. He also read Moby Dick in the children's version too and that was quite a success. Never say never, right? :+)

Two friends recently asked me for book suggestions for the medieval time period and I came up with quite a list. I thought you might enjoy it too.

Monks and Mystics: Chronicles of the Medieval Church - We are reading the first in this series right now: [Peril and Peace: Chronicles of the Ancient Church – that begins with Paul and goes through Benedict (529 AD)] Powerful books!!


The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow


The Viking Quest Series


Augustine Came to Kent


The Hidden Treasure of Glaston


Beorn the Proud


Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World


Ink on His Fingers.


Marguerite Makes a Book


Caedmon’s Song


Leif the Lucky


The Making of a Knight


The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day


Morning Star of the Reformation


The River of Grace: The Story of John Calvin


Otto of the Silver Hand


Saint George and the Dragon


The Illuminated Manuscript


Book of Kells DVD (This is just a wishlist kind of thing as I don’t own it, but it looks so neat!)


The ones below are Renaissance, but I listed them for later. :+)


The Apprentice


Dutch Color (In seventeenth-century Holland, a young woman vows to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance following a voyage to Venice to obtain paint color recipes for the painters of Utrecht.)


I hope you find something you enjoy!


Thursday, February 05, 2009

February already!

It is amazing to me that we have already arrived in February. We have two birthdays in February that are significant to our family. John enters double digits on Sunday and Abigail is to turn 12 on Valentine's Day. She was a gift to us and was the only child to arrive at a decent and sensible hour. John was already given his birthday bike and was exceedingly happy to get it. He, Daddy, Abigail, and Hannah spent a good portion of the day on a lengthy excursion together. I took the littles to shop and have fun together. They are easy to please at the wee ages of 6 and 8. :+)

Abigail was also given a portion of her birthday gifts early, an Elephant Heart Plum tree that she has wanted since last year. That girl loves to garden and I will let her do it! :+) We are hoping to have a harvest in a few years if we take good care of it. The plums are juicy and red and should make for yummy eating. We also have a very pretty apricot that provides us a small gathering of fruit every other year. They are delightfully good though sparse in turnout.

Spring has arrived quite early here and I am not exactly ready for it yet. Spring is a tough and wonderful time for us. Allergies make it tough, but the weather and the planting of gardens makes it wonderful. The grass will turn green again and the cold will go away and as long as it stays coolish to warmish I am a happy clam. We are blessed here in central CA, with very mild weather almost all the time. We expect a "thunder storm" this weekend, but I imagine my friends in the midwest would give a hearty laugh could they experience what we term "thunder storm." I don't know what I would do if I ever found myself in a genuine one! :+)

We are in the midst of reading our second year of The Mystery Of History, Volume 2: The Early Church and the Middle Ages and we are really enjoying this year too.A friend just recently asked me what I would purchase again to use if everything in my house burned down. This was one of the products. I *love* this program. We have learned so much. It is such a blessing to learn this way.

We flesh it out with some of the best books out there. Right now we are reading a wonderful book that happens to be in a series. This is the first of four. It is called Peril and Peace Volume 1: Chronicles of the Ancient Church. This is a compilation of stories of the early church giants beginning with Paul. It is a moving account and sometimes I find myself on the verge of tears. As Tertullian, an early church father said, "In the blood of the martyrs lies the seed of the Church." This is an important book to share with your children.

What a blessing it has been and continues to be, to learn with my children!! What are you learning?