Our Family

Our Family

Saturday, May 31, 2008

All Through the Ages

I was having a hard time deciding what to do for Chelsea's History next year. I really do not like to use textbooks, but "living books" to teach History. Last year I bought Sonlight's American History and I liked their concept of teaching through Readers and Read-Alouds, but I was not thrilled with the cost of the curriculum and Chelsea (who LOVES to read) had almost $400 worth of books read in less than 2 weeks (except for the Read-Alouds I wouldn't let her read those without me.)
What I found is a guide called All Through the Ages History Through Literature Guide by Christine Miller. I bought it on http://www.amazon.com/ in like-new condition for $22 (new it is $27.95)
It is a compilation of over 5600 of the best living books and great literature arranged by chronological era, geographical region, and reading level for ages 1-12 th grade. For each section she lists books in the following catagories :Resources for all ages, grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12 overview of the era, specific events, historical fiction, literature, culture, and biography starting with Creation and continuing to the Modern Era. I can choose books for Chelsea to read from the 4-6 level on her own and I can read aloud to her from the higher levels. It is a great resource and I will hopefully be able to get most of the books from the library or through Inter library Loan.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Prayer Request

There is a little girl (4) who goes to our church, her name is Lillie. They just found out that she has a very rare and very aggressive form of cancer that started as a large growth behind her tonsils. She is facing 42 weeks of chemotherapy plus some radiation. Please pray for her and for others who are facing similar situations in their fight against cancer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Grocery Shopping

I remember when I was getting ready to have Alex and I thought that there was no way I could take 3 children grocery shopping. Then when I was pregnant with Anthony I really thought there was no way especially when 3 out of the 4 children were under the age of 5. When I had Christian I was positive it would be an impossible feat to take 5 children grocery shopping, especially since we shop at The Walmart Super Center which is larger than a regular grocery store, and it takes longer to go through. Even though it is not as impossible as I had thought, it is definitely a challenge and requires a list, behavior expectations for the children, and A LOT of patience.
Honestly, I prefer to shop on Saturday mornings when Art is able to stay at home with the boys and Chelsea and I can go together. However, the rising price of gas and the fact that we live 15 miles from town has forced me to change my grocery shopping habits, and go shopping on days that we already have to be in town.
Yesterday we had no food left at all and I was planning on taking the kids with me in the morning to go shopping when I found out there was a picnic at the park for a friend that is moving. I really wanted to go to the picnic, but I was worried about taking 5 sweaty tired kids through Walmart with me when we had so much to buy. We went to the picnic in the park and the kids and I had a great time visiting with friends. I made sure that all of the children ate fairly well so they wouldn't be hungry when we got to the store and made plans to leave the park by 12:00. At 11:55 we were loaded up and on our way to Walmart and at 12:05 Christian had already fallen asleep in the truck and I had to wake him up. I gave the children the "talk " about how I expected them to behave and the consequences if they chose not to. Chelsea loaded Anthony into one shopping cart I loaded Christian into the other and we made our way through the store.
I could not believe how well behaved they were! We were in the store for a full hour and not one argument, fight, grabbing items off the shelf, running down the aisles or hiding. There was no crying from Christian or Anthony and no misbehaving in the checkout line. I was so proud of the children I let them pick out a sucker on the way out. Maybe going to the park first was a great idea after all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Camping Trip

We had a great time camping with my parents this week-end. We went swimming, played outside, and every meal was a picnic. Art got to do some fishing. We did have several thunderstorms that each lasted a couple hours, but after they were over the sun came back out again. The storms made me very glad of 2 things. One, that I was not sleeping in a tent. There were tent campers all around us (most of them with very small children.) The wind was blowing so hard that they and all of their belongings were soaked. After the rain they just spread their stuff out to dry. I think I would have gone home, especially after the third round of storms. Second, I was grateful for the TV. Sad I know, but when the rain started we turned on a DVD, and played some games, and that kept everyone occupied until it stopped raining. When we got home Anthony started crying because he wanted to go camping again but he doesn't have to worry because we have a few other trips planned this summer.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Camping We Will Go!

The day is finally here. After many days of marking the calender, and remembering how many times we have to go to sleep and wake up before it is time to go, it is time to go camping! The kids are so excited they can't stand it. We will leave tomorrow at lunchtime and arrive at the lake by dinnertime. My mom and dad are meeting us there. We are staying until Monday, so I will not be posting again until Tuesday. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tasty Tuesday: Biscuits

I had a really bad migraine head-ache yesterday which left me unable to accomplish anything. So today we are doing yesterday's work (school and house) along with today's. Here is the recipe I was going to post yesterday.

I love these biscuits because you just drop them from a spoon onto a cookie sheet. You don't have to take the time to roll and cut them out.

Combine ( I use my Kitchen-aid mixer)
3 C all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 C butter
1 1/4 C milk

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 450 oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Digging for Diamonds

Instead of a regular Monday Morning Project, we headed outdoors first thing this morning to enjoy the beautiful weather. The boys woke up with some extra energy today that needed to be burned off before we tackled schoolwork. We live very close to a Diamond Mine and although we have never been digging for diamonds, the boys have heard us talking about the diamonds that have been found. They decided a good place to start looking was the backyard. So far the only things that have been discovered are rocks and plant roots.
Chelsea stayed in most of the morning. She is suffering from a bad case of Poison Ivy and was feeling miserable.

Hard at Work

Art spent yesterday washing and painting the motor home so we can get ready to go on our first camping trip of the year this week-end. Christain watched and Nick and Alex stood under the awning while the water fell on top of them over the edge. The kids are so excited to be going camping, Alex asks me every couple of hours," How much longer?" Hopefully we will have really great weather (no rain)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Steve

Today my brother Steve would have been 32 years old. This is a picture of him the very last time I ever saw him. On February 15, 2004 while he was in Louisiana on vacation, a car full of drunk people who had just left a casino entered the highway using an off ramp as an on ramp and hit him head on. Steve and the driver of the other vehicle were killed instantly.
I miss my brother very much. Birthdays, holidays, special occassions, and day to day living all have an empty space where he should be. I look forward to the day when we can all be together again.
Romans 8:28 says And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.
I don't begin to know or understand why things happen the way they do. Steve taught me many things during his life, and I did learn something important from his death. Don't take life for granted. Make the most of the time you have when you are here, don't get caught up in petty problems of the world they mean nothing in the long run. Tell those around you that you love them and enjoy the time you have with your children.
Added Note:
After I posted this I spoke with my mom. Her and Dad send balloons up every year in honor of Steve's Birthday. Usually after sending the balloons up a rainbow will appear in the sky. This year, a dove flew down from the sky and landed in the tree in their front yard. These are wonderful signs from God, reminding us not to be sad, but to rejoice.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

There Are No Rules

On Monday, we had a homeschool meeting, and I was very happy that we have 4 new ladies joining our group that are going to begin homeschooling next year. Talking with them made me remember how scary it was to first make the decision to homeschool, and then try to decide what to do next. What kind of curriculum did I need? How many hours a day should we spend on school? What if she wasn't learning what I was teaching? What if we didn't like our curriculum? And the list of questions goes on, and on, and on.

Something I have learned that I think is very important if you are just starting out, or thinking about homeschooling. There Are No Rules. That is right. There is no right or wrong way to homeschool. What works for you and your family is what you need to do. What works for one family won't necessarily work for another. A good friend of mine recommended a reading program for Nick that her son loved. I ran right out and bought it, and Nick and I both hated it. I sold it on ebay and went on to something else. Some children are early risers and want to start working in the morning, some are late sleepers and work better in the afternoon. That is okay. Some people like to buy what I call the "curriculum in a box"(Sonlight, Abecca etc..) This is a curriculum that you purchase everything from the same company, wait for it to arrive, open the box, and begin. Other people don't use a curriculum at all. I use a variety of different things. I spend approximately 2-3 hours a day on "school work." My day is split up into about 40 minutes at a time, take a break and then start again. This works better for me with a house full of little ones. Some people get their school work done all at once. I school through the summer months, many people I know take off 3 months for the summer. Some of my friends have a "school room" in their house, we "school" in every room of the house. A lady who just pulled her child out of public school said,"the freedom is a little scary." I believe that is true in the beginning, but the freedom is also wonderful.

Don't get overwhelmed! There are so many choices out there, it can be a bit confusing. Think about your child and what you think they will learn best doing. Talk to people and find out what they like and don't like, and why. Read reviews on curriculum. Send away for catalogs or attend a convention if you can. If you buy something and it isn't working out, stop using it (sell it) and try something else. These questions that seem so important really aren't. You have made an awesome choice to educate your child at home. Don't sweat the small stuff, take a break and get to know your child again (especially if you are pulling an older child out of school) and just enjoy your homeschooling adventure!

Happy Anniversary!




When Art and I met 16 years ago, (has it really been that long?) it was not exactly love at first sight. In fact we did not even like each other, and he was dating one of my best friends. Well that relationship did not work out, and several years later we bumped into each other in a grocery store where he was working part time. Less than 2 years after that we were married.

This is the short version of our story. Our marriage has been filled with ups and downs, laughter and tears, joys and sorrows, and many blessings. We have been through so much together but I wouldn't change it for the world. We now have five beautiful children, 3 dogs, and 14 chickens. Art is my best friend and I can't imagine my life without him. Happy Anniversary!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Too Cute!

Does anyone remember the cartoon He Man? It was on in the eighties, a battle between the forces of good and evil with the good guys always winning, and a moral at the end of each episode. Growing up with two brothers who loved this cartoon (and had most of the action figures) I think we saw every episode and some more than once. When we started getting Netflix, Art found HeMan on the list and got it for the kids. They loved it! We found the DVD rather inexpensively at Walmart and bought it. This morning, Chelsea decided she was going to make Anthony a costume just like HeMan. She gathered some material, measured Anthony, and started sewing. The result was this costume that now Anthony does not want to take off. Then she made him a sword out of cardboard. He is running around the house saying, " I have the power." I wonder how I am going to get him back in his diaper for his nap.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monday Morning Project: Soap Carving

Our Monday Morning Project this week was soap carving. Our Five In a Row book for this week is Daniel's Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla and one of the art project suggestions was to do a carving. The children were very excited about this project because we have never tried anything like it before. We used bars of Ivory soap and a plastic knife. They drew a top and side view of the animal they were going to carve and got to work. Chelsea did a fish, Alex a whale, and Nick started out trying to do a duck and ended up with a camel. Anthony and Christian were too young to do their own, but Anthony helped. It was a fun project, inexpensive ($1.07 for the three pack pk soap), and easy to clean up.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Book Review: The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr

Fifteen year old Simon green has just completed the 3 rd grade (for the 4 th time) when Miss Rogers tells him it is time to make his way in the world of 1860. Simon may not be book smart, but he hatches a plan that could make him a fortune. He intends to herd one thousand turkeys from Missouri to Denver where meat is scarce and fetches a high price. Bankrolled by Miss Rogers and accompanied by a loyal drover and his dog, four mules, and a wagon load of shelled corn, Simon undertakes the biggest journey of his young life in this Wild West adventure.

I just finished reading this book to Chelsea (11) and we loved it! It was a wonderful story, and we even read extra every day so we could see how it ended faster. You know you have a hit when the child is volunteering to fold the laundry so you will have time to keep reading!

One of my favorite lines in the book (there were many)
"Miss Rogers always said as how there's a place for every soul in this world. Only needs to be found."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Chelsea's Locks of Love

Chelsea has been growing her hair out for quite some time to donate it to Locks of Love. The hair has to be at least 10 in from tip to tip braided or in a pony tail. Well yesterday was the big day and she went and got her hair cut. Doesn't it look cute?

To find out more about locks of love go to http://www.locksoflove.org/

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tasty Tuesday:Chocolate Covered Oreo Cookie Cake

This is the recipe for the lovely, light, luscious, delectable cake we chose for The Duchess Bakes a Cake.

1 pkg devil's food chocolate cake mix
4 squares Bakers semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/4 cup of butter, cut up
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups thawed cool whip
12 Oreo cookies crushed

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare and bake cake mix as directed for 2 9 in round baking pans. Cool cake 5 min, remove from pans, cool completely on wire rack.

Microwave chocolate and butter on High 2 min or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool 5 min.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in whipped cream and crushed cookies. Place 1 layer top side down on a serving plate. Spread evenly with cream cheese mixture. Cover with remaining layer top side up. Spoon chocolate glaze over the cake. Let stand until set. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 16 servings.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sanity Saving Tips

I was listening to a speaker recently that was talking to a group of women that meets once a month as a support system and encouragement for stay at home moms. The woman announced, "Kindergarten is your reward as a mother for sacrificing all of your time for the the first five years of your child's life. When your children go to school, you can start to have your life back." Several of us there were homeschoolers and just kind of glanced at each other and listened politely while this lady "encouraged" us for another 30 minutes. I have a bit of a different perspective. I enjoy having my children home with me it is not a "sacrifice" but a joy. Now I am not saying that every one of my days are perfect. They are not. I am an imperfect person raising 5 imperfect children. We all have moments of failure and impatience. I have on occasion met my husband at the door handed him the baby and said,"I am done parenting for the day, they are now yours." I have had several "calgon take me away" moments. Parenting is not an easy job whether you homeschool or not. Here are some of my sanity saving tips.

1. Knock before entering rule. We are all entitled to privacy (even though our children don't think that we are) The children have to knock before entering my bedroom or bathroom (except Christian) and they are not supposed to come in until they are invited in. If they forget and come barging in, I just remind them of the rule, send them back out the door, and tell them to try again.
2. Don't overload yourself with outside commitments. I am still working on this. I find it hard to say NO when there are things going on that the children want to participate in. But, limiting outside activities can help save your sanity. It is hard work packing up 5 kids and going out. You also get behind on housework and schoolwork, kids and mom get over-tired, and by the end of the day everyone is in a bad mood.
3. Have a quiet time set aside every day. While Christian and Anthony are napping it is quiet time in our house for 1 hour. Chelsea, Nick and Alex have to find something productive (and quiet) to do, and I have some time to myself to read, work on the computer, talk on the phone, etc. I do not do housework during this hour every day.
4. 8:00 bedtime for all of the children. Even Chelsea has to go to her room to read quietly for an hour. This gets the children to bed before they are too overtired, and also gives me some time in the evening to get some things done without all of my little helpers. It also gives Art and I some time to talk without 5 pairs of ears listening.
5. Have some fun! Kids are fun! Get down on the floor and crawl around with your baby, build blocks with your toddler, swing, slide, engage in a light saber duel, play a video game.
6. Pray! Pray for yourself and your children.

Most of all enjoy the time that you have with them. It really is such a short period of time that we have them home with us. I want to make the most of the time I have with them. I am glad every day that we chose to keep them home and do not think I am missing out on the "reward " of sending them to school. It is much more rewarding to spend time with your children and get to experience first hand everything they accomplish.

Monday Morning Project:Snake Puppets

Today I needed a project that didn't require a lot of hands on work by me. I wanted something even the little ones could do with little or no help. Nick grabbed our Big Book of Things to Make and Do (Usborne) and found a project making snake puppets by bending a pipe cleaner around a pencil. The result was Wintergreen, Blueberry, Raspberry, and Orange and the children played snake family with their puppets while I was preparing lunch. They actually complained when it was time to eat. They also began work on a Snake House for their family but finishing that project will be saved for another day. It was beautiful outside and we spent several hours this afternoon enjoying it.

Friday, May 2, 2008

FIAR: The Duchess Bakes a Cake

This week for FIAR we read The Duchess Bakes a Cake by Virginia Kahl. Monday we learned about Knights, made a Knight and a Coat of Arms. On Tuesday we learned about the Color Wheel and used finger paints to learn what happens when you mix colors. Wednesday we wrote down the cast of characters for Language Arts. Today we made a lovely, light, luscious, delectable cake!

The Solar System

Chelsea has just started Apologia Science Exploring Creation with Astronomy. Her project this week was to make the Solar System out of balloons and hang it from the ceiling. This was an inexpensive way to make the solar system (the balloons cost $1.17) and it was fun. Her book had suggested dimensions for the balloon sizes so you could see how they would compare in outer space. They also learned the order of the planets from the sun. The boys wanted to get in on the project too so we made one to hang in their room and one to hang in Chelsea's room.

A Grumpy Baby

Poor Christian! He gets so sad when Daddy is mowing and he can't ride on the tractor that even the swing doesn't cheer him up!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Homeschooling on a Budget

Every year I set aside some money in order to buy my curriculum. The amount varies depending on what I need. In addition to that I have in my monthly budget $25 for Homeschooling needs. I use this money for different things; books, field trips, art supplies, science experiments, whatever we need for the month. Also, any money I make selling on ebay, half.com, or amazon.com I spend on buying books (usually on ebay, half.com, or amazon.) Any money I make selling Usborne Books I use my discount to buy more Usborne Books. As you can see most of the money I use to buy books. This month our Art supplies were very depleted so we decided to spend our $25 at Walmart on Art supplies. I thought it would be a good budgeting exercise to have Nick and Chelsea help me make a list of what we needed and what they thought it cost. Here is our list:

$25 Budget
List of what we need and their guesses. Actual Price is in parentheses

Paint $5 ($5.26 )
gluesticks $4 (3 packs .97 each $2.91)
felt $4 ($3.44)
Pipe Cleaners $2 ($1.97)
crayons $2 (4 boxes on clearence for .50 each $2)
Markers $3 ($3.22)
Construction Paper $3 ($2.14 )

Their guesses were pretty close and our total including tax was $23.09!