Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Little Socialization

If you happen to be a reader who thinks that us crazy homeschoolers hide out at home with the drapes drawn, keeping our children as far removed from civilization as possible, you'd be happy to know that today we got out for a little socializing.  We went rollerskating with approximately 100 crazy homeschoolers.  I socialized to the point of having a dry throat.  The kids skated, raced, talked, laughed, ate pizza, drank soda, played video games...did all the typical roller rink stuff minus the top 40 music (all Christian music) and plus lots of parents nearby.

Monday, September 27, 2010

For the Fashion Challenged

I know, I know homeschooling moms aren't typically known as fashion divas.  And if you were to stop by on any given day, you'd probably find me in a pair of jeans, knit top(most likely with some sort of smear on the shoulder or across the tummy) and running shoes.  But sometimes the diva in me comes out and I want to give the newest fashion trends a try.  Looking through magazines is fine, but what do you do when you see the perfect look.  In my case, I just look longingly and then turn the page because I have no idea how to make it work for me.  So, sorry, you won't find any tips from me, however, I did come across a great blog, Blushing Basics.  A makeup artist by trade, Kristie shares tons of tips and video tutorials (very helpful) for those of us who aren't necessarily fashion challenged, but need step by step instructions for completing the looks we see in mags or on other fashionable mommas.  And it's not all makeup.  She includes hair, nails, clothing, shoes....all the good stuff.  I especially love her Braided Headband Tutorial.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

If You Build It They Will Come

This was once said about a ball diamond, but fits our circumstance today perfectly.  See, in August 2009 we finished our horse pasture with the intentions of bringing home Pearl from the boarding stable.  And since horses are herd animals they like to have horsey friends to hang with in their pasture so we adopted Max, a miniature horse just the right size for Amber to handle on her own.  Earlier this summer we were approached by a neighbor (I'm using the rural definition of neighbor) with a phone number of a person with a free horse.  We gracefully passed this one up because I had no desire to investigate the situation.  Now last week we were approached again by the stable owner with this doosey of a question:  Bob really needs some place to go because his owner is tapped out financially, but doesn't want to sell Bob and you know Emily rides Bob during her lessons and knows how to handle him well and we need to make room for paying clients and having another horse at your place would be great especially with Amber growing and the girls having friends over and I don't want you to feel pressured, we won't kick Bob out, he'll always have a place here if we can't find a good home for him, but I was just wondering if you'd like to have Bob at your place for a while. 
Amber and Max
Emily and Pearl

Our new horse, Bob, is the Appaloosa at the end
So with it being Emily's birthday yesterday we had arranged with the stable owner to trailer a bunch of horses here for a trail ride.  The stable girls came with their horses and Tina brought Bob to ride and then left him here with us.  And I'm going to say it right now.  No more horses.  I am not adopting any more horses.  Really. I am not.

Did I mention Pearl is blind in one eye, Max has week legs and Bob has arthritic knees.  God help us!

Friday, September 24, 2010


I'm not one to comment on their actions.  However, today Lindsay Lohan made the news and her estranged father's comment was shocking.  Apparantly, she is struggling with upholding the rules of her probation.  She is supposed to remain drug-free and is required to show up for periodic drug testing.  Her most recent drug test tested positive for drugs.  Here's the shocker.  Her estranged father begged the court to send her to drug rehab instead of jail because..."she doesn't know any better."  Really?  A twenty-something year old young lady bright enough to attend movie auditions, memorize and rehearse her lines and take her million dollar checks to the bank isn't smart enough to know that drugs are addictive or illegal?  Or was her estranged father commenting on her knowledge of the court system?  Again I say a twenty-something year old young lady bright enough to attend movie auditions, memorize and rehearse her lines and take her million dollar checks to the bank isn't smart enough to ask her attorney to explain the rules of her probation?  Or maybe the estranged father is feeling like he's failed her somehow.  Maybe he believes "she doesn't know any better" because he didn't take the time to really live life to the fullest with her.  I don't have the answer, but it's shocking to me that a father could ever say his child "doesn't know any better" especially when we're talking about an adult.  That's what makes us adults, we are supposed to know better.

Now go explain something new to your child.  Share an experience with him.  Visit with him.  Eat dinner with him.  Take him to church.  Memorize the Ten Commandments.  Read the 21 Rules of This HousePlease make sure your child knows better.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We Have a Suitcase Packed

No we're not leaving for vacation. Are you kidding, harvest is in less than 3 weeks.  We are  preparing for flood conditions.  6.25 inches of rain in 15 hours doesn't bode well for our home, driveway or cranberry marsh.  The morning began with a.......slide right to the cranberry ditch.  Truck #1 - STUCK!  Warren brought me into the mess to help with the pull out.  However, after a few minutes.....Truck #2 - STUCK!  So we walked back in the pouring rain for the first runners up, a tractor and 4-wheeler.  You know, if the winner can't fulfill its duties, the first runner up will take its place.  The tractor worked wonders and we were back in action.  I headed up to the house and discovered water running across the basement floor.  As fast as I swept it towards the sump pump, more water found its way in.  Anyway, after a couple visits from neighbors, the situation became clear.  Everyone's reservoirs are full.  Everyone has water they need to dump.  The creek is rising and a good portion of the water will be coming our way.  Our back way out is flooded and dangerous.  Our front way (the driveway) is holding back 200 acres of water and the possibility of that dike giving way is foremost on our minds.  And that's why we have a suitcase, sides bulging, packed and ready to go. 

OK, God.  Is it too much to ask for a lull in the precipitation?  Amen.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why You Should Ignore Your Children

The second week of homeschool is under our belt. We're into a groove and the rhythm it provides is good for my sanity. The saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks isn't holding true because I consider myself an old dog of homeschooling and I've learned a couple new tricks this year.

#1 - Ignore Your Children

Now at first this sounds a little harsh, however let me explain using a real life example. I've just taught Emily and Nick their Saxon math lesson, explained length and width to Amber so she could do her math lesson and set Sam up with toy cars to use as counters for his basic subtraction problems, I then stepped into the next room over to perform my daily task of laundering their clothes.

 One step into the laundry room and I hear, "Mom.....Mooooommm." I begin sorting the heap and hear again, "Moooommmmm, I don't get this." My instinct is to yell back for them to bring their work out by me, but I resist and try my best to ignore the wails. As I toss the towels, washcloths, socks and underwear into the washer, again I hear, "Mom, Mom, Mom come here, do I measure in inches or these centimeter thingies?" I measure out the laundry soap, pour it over the towels and continue ignoring them when I find a load in the dryer to be folded.

 The cries for help keep coming louder and clearer, funny though, no one actually gets out of their seat to come find me. After a couple more pleas for help they settle down and it becomes quiet again. I finish folding the laundry and walk back into the dining room, "Was someone calling me? What is it you need help with?" They all look up and almost in unison reply, "Never mind I figured it out." Point made. Thank you God for that timely unplanned lesson on the value of ignoring your children.

#2 - The Notecard Schedule

This year I tried something new for scheduling. It seems in the past the kids were always asking me, "Am I supposed to do one page or two? How many lessons am I supposed to do a week?" Even though we had a spreadsheet schedule they still asked. This year I made a stack of notecards for each kid. On each notecard I wrote the subject and book title and then under that wrote the weekly requirement. For example on the math card it might look like this:

Math - Saxon 8/7
Complete 1 lesson/day
M, T, W, Th, F

The language card might look like this:

English - Language of God Level F
Complete 2 pages/day
M, T, Th, F

I stapled their notecards together and so far it is working well. Each morning they work in order of their notecards. Of course they need to know the day of the week, which for one has been problematic, to know which subjects to do that day. On the notecard labeled Reading, I write their current reading book and expected finish date on a sticky note and stick it to the notecard. This works well for assigned literature selections that relate to History or Science. I also added a blank notecard to the end of each stack. I write any additional expectations on a sticky note and then stick it to the last notecard. For example:

Write birthday thank yous
Complete by Friday

This system has worked great for us. It's simple to set up, no Excel spreadsheets or weekly lesson plans to print, just a rubberbanded pile of notecards in the kitchen junk drawer.
What's your favorite way to schedule your homeschool? Please post your tips and leave a link in my comments.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Typical Homeschool Day

What is a typical day of homeschooling like? I get this question quite often from homeschool onlookers. I don't believe homeschool and typical should be in the same sentence, but none the less people want to know what we do all day. First off let me set you straight lest you think I speak for all homeschoolers. There is no typical day for our homeschool and as far as other homeschoolers, I'm sure they all have their own untypical days. In an effort to answer the question though here's how our Thursday unfolded hour by hour.

6:15 - 7:30 - Warren and I are awoken by Little J's cries, quickly we realize it's recycling day, jump out of bed and get the bins out in the nick of time. Warren and Little J make coffee and watch news and eat breakfast. I run a 5K.

7:30 - 8:30 - I shower, Warren starts mowing cranberry dikes, the four older kids get up and I remind them numerous times to get their morning jobs done including practicing instruments, feeding animals, collecting/washing eggs. Samuel stapled his thumb, screamed for a long time and took a couch break to relax.

8:30 - 9:00 - Emily, Nick and Amber did Spelling. I worked with Samuel on Phonics and Reading. Joseph tears the house apart, literally. We all take turns redirecting him to pounding toys and books, without much success.

9:00 - 9:30 - Emily read us a Bible story and we practiced memorizing the Memorare.

9:30 - 10:30 - Emily worked on Language. I got Samuel started on Handwriting, realized Nick and Amber were gone and began a search for them. I found them hunkered down in Nick's bed secretly making birthday gifts for Emily. I shagged them back out to the table to do their written lessons. They both started on Language. I taught Emily and Nick their Math lesson, started a load of laundry and did a quick pickup of Little J's toys.

10:30 - 11:30 - Hung out a load of laundry. Strongly encouraged Sam to continue with his Handwriting. Emily finished her math assignment and handed the book over to Nick. Sam finally finished his Handwriting and did a Math page. I read a quick story about trees to Little J and Sam and then got out the pizza rolls for the kids' lunch. I spruced myself up a bit.

11:30 - 12:30 - I explained the Botany unit to Emily and Nick and gave them their syllabus. Emily put the pizza rolls in the oven, Little J fell asleep on the kitchen floor. I carried him off to bed and Warren and I left for a pre-cranberry harvest lunch date.

12:30 - 3:00 - Warren and I ran some business errands and went to Applebees's. The kids did what kids do when their parents are gone which I'm assuming is eat a lot of snacks and probably watch a movie.

3:00 - 4:00 - I worked on writing. Little J played with canning rings, Tupperware covers and anything else he could get out the kitchen drawers. The older kids were doing a combination of completing their science lessons, making beaded bracelets, reading, playing on the trampoline, playing their computer games, testing their bowhunting safety harnesses and practicing archery.

4:00 - 6:00 - Little J and I took Emily to her violin lesson. While she violined we went to the library and stopped at the grocery store for $33 of fresh fruits and veggies. The other kids stayed home apparently playing computer games and trampolining.

6:00 - 7:30 - We all tidied up the house which took a very long time. I made supper and they made more beaded bracelets. Emily also created a babysitting service brochure.

7:30 - 8:30 - Warren came in from bear hunting, we ate a late supper, read poetry from Where the Sidewalk Ends and put the kiddos to bed.

The End!

For more hour by hour daybooks:

Go here or here

Police Reports

A few months ago our local newspaper started publishing the police reports. So far we haven't been the subject of any of these reports which makes it easier to find the humor in them. For example:

At 9:52 pm Monday, a woman reported seeing another woman throw her keys at a teenage girl.

At 2:17 pm Tuesday, a man reported seeing boys hiding behind a bush.

Many of the reports are serious and I agree with the callers for reporting the incidents, but really people. Maybe that teenage girl is learning to drive. Maybe those boys are playing hide 'n seek. Anyway we talk in police report style often throughout the day. When I see two children squabbling over a seat at the dinner table, I might say:

At 5:23 pm Wednesday, a woman reported hearing two children yelling about seat position at the dinner table.

We all chuckle and sometimes that's enough to end the squabble. Well, we have a new incident to report:

At 8:52 am Wednesday, a bear hunter reported having his sweaty workshirt eaten by a bear; only a small portion of the sleeve was left at the bait.

It's bear hunting season and Warren has been giving it his all to score a bear. Not having any luck in his first week of hunting, a buddy shared an idea that's worked for some guys up North. Leaving a sweaty workshirt at the bait over night supposedly scares bear away because they think a human is present. They get hungry without their nightly feast of craisins, crumbled cookies and week old movie popcorn. Then the hunter upon arrival to the stand is supposed to bag up the shirt and wait; without the sweaty workshirt odor the bear is supposed to think no one is there and hit the bait during the day. That's when... Kaboom! the bear becomes our dinner. Actually we make bear burger into jerky because all the kids love it and so do their friends. That's what is supposed to happen. But from the police report you can see what really happened. Warren put out the sweaty workshirt (a nice one, too) and upon arrival in the morning found it gone except for a small scrap hanging in a tree. The bait was gone, too. This incident really shoots the idea that the bear is more scared of you than you are of it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homeschool Links

Do you like truthful, witty commentary about joys of homeschooling? Check out The Homeschool Apologist. It's great reading, especially if you're a little skeptical about homeschoolers and homeschooling.

Another favorite right now is the Handbook of Nature Study blog. The book by the same name, written by Anna Comstock is my favorite nature study resource and this blog provides great inspiration to actually use the book and not just read it.

Down Syndrome Awareness Walk

Team Joseph's Dreamcoats (that's us) will be walking to promote awareness of Down Syndrome. Formerly called the Buddy Walk, the DSAW will be held in East Central Wisconsin and we are hoping to raise a few dollars to be put towards Down Syndrome Awareness. If you would like to donate, please click on the link in the lefthand sidebar. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eating His Veggies

This time of year you can always find a basket of fresh garden produce in our entryway waiting to be "worked up". Well Little J was just the guy to do it. I'm so glad he grabbed a bell pepper and not a jalapeno.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Amber!

Look at that face.
She's 9.
She's happy.
I love her.

Brothers' Conversation

Brother #1 - No double dipping your chips in the salsa. I'm watching you.

Brother #2 - I don't double dip. I just backwash.

That's what I call brutal honesty.