Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Studying the Presidents

Last January when Nicholas and I finished his Abeka 2nd grade history, I started browsing the shelves to see what else I had on hand to use for History. We came across a coloring book from Scholastic that someone had given me called Meet the Presidents. The book had never been colored in even though it is 20 years old. Nick was very interested in learning about this topic so we jumped in. In addition to being a coloring page, the book shows the births and deaths of the Presidents, term in office, and an interesting fact about each one. To further our study, we look up each one in the World Book Encyclopedia (we were given a set from the 70's last year and actually have used it quite a bit.) I also found this website here that gives information about each of our Presidents and more coloring pages here that you can print out. All of the pages Nick has been doing are going into a Presidents of the United States Notebook for future reference. He has really enjoyed doing this study and we both have learned quite a bit.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Book Review: Friendships for Grown-ups by Lisa Whelchel

I just finished reading the book, Friendship for Grown-ups by Lisa Whelchel. Lisa was a famous actress, author, pastor's wife, mother to 3 children, and a follower of Christ. Some people would think that is the perfect life. But she discovers what is missing in her life are true friendships. In this book, Lisa shares her journey traveling the ups and downs of friendships, learning about herself, others, and the kinds of friendship God designed. She shares her struggle with trying to be perfect, the wall she had around her to protect herself from being hurt by others, and what happened when the wall came down. She describes what to look for in a close "safe " friendship and how to make, maintain, and keep theses relationships healthy.

Wow. This is a really great book ( and I don't say that too often.) Lisa's story is heartfelt and compelling. I read this book and saw so much of myself in it. Jesus is my best friend, but we need to also have relationships with people so we can grow closer in our relationships to the Lord. My husband is my best friend. This is absolutley true, but he is a man, and women just need women sometimes. Lisa shares in her story that she thought that the more perfect that she was, the more people would like her and want to connect with her, so she showed people only what she wanted them to see. I think as women we have this idea that we need to show perfection to the people around us. We need to be able to do it all can't show when we are weak, vulnerable, or a miserable failure at something. We may find it hard to trust people with our inner most feelings or past experiences because we have been hurt by people we trusted in the past. This book offers powerful reminders of how to keep our strong friendships healthy and for those who may long to build this kind of friendship, it is a compassionate guide to becoming the friend we all need.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the sole purpose of reviewing it and received no other financial compensation.

Yard Sale!

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working to de-clutter our house and get rid of things we don't need or use anymore (especially in the playroom which has gotten way out of control.) I had a pretty good amount of stuff but not enough to do a yard sale on my own. Plus my location is not exactly high traffic. My sister-in-law and mom and dad only live a few miles from each other and had some things to sell, so I drove up with the kids on Wednesday planning on having the sale Thurs, Fri, and Saturday. We didn't do any advertising in the newspaper, but we did put an add on Craig's List. We also put signs on the corner pointing in the direction of the house. At 6:30 am I went out to put stuff out (we were starting at 7) and there was a truck at the end of the driveway waiting for the sale to start. By 9am we had sold 80 percent of our stuff. We only had some clothes, a few toys, a bike rack, tire, and a box of geo-tracks left. At 11:00 I closed it down and pulled the ad off Craig's List. I am going to donate what's left of the clothes and toys and put a the few other things on Craig's List. For a few hours worth of work we made over $400 combined, and I have a lot less toys to trip over.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

4-H Achievement Banquet

Friday was the 4-H Achievement Banquet. Anthony and Christian stayed at home with Nana and Papa while the rest of us went to the Banquet. This year's theme was "Roll Out the Green Carpet and dress was either formal or church attire. We found Chelsea's dress on clearance at David's Bridal for only $20. Nick borrowed a suit and tie from a friend and I found Alex's suit coat for $3 at Once Upon a Child. The food and the decorations at the Banquet were very nice. It did run a bit long (over 3 hours) which is a little hard on the younger kids, but they held up all right. Nick and Alex both got their Cloverbud Journal Awards. Chelsea's club won two awards, and Chelsea won County Champion for her 4-H Participation and was a District Journal winner. I am very proud of my children for all of their hard work and participation in 4-H.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Digging for Diamonds

Not very far away from my house is the world's only public diamond mine. The Crater of Diamond State Park has 37 acres of a ploughed area that is available for public mining and even though we have lived in Arkansas for 8 years have never been there. Today we went on a field trip to do some diamond mining. Approximately 600 diamonds are found every year in varying sizes and colors. 6 diamonds were found this morning during the time period we were there, but none of them were ours. We did find several quartz and Nick found a crystal quartz that looked like a diamond. It has not rained all week and the dirt was very hard to dig in. The children did bring home some dirt in their buckets to look through later.

Visiting Sunshine Acres

Yesterday, our Cloverbud 4-H group had an opportunity to take a field trip to Sunshine Acres in Nashville, AR. They did a wonderful job talking to our children about plants and what they need to grow, and showing the children different kinds of plants and seeds. We also got to make a flower basket to be auctioned off in the silent auction to benefit the 4-H Foundation. Each child had an opportunity to plant something in the basket and it turned out beautifully. All of the children also got to pick a plant, plant it, and take it home with them. It was a great field trip!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

P. E. at Home

I heard the craziest thing the other day. There is an activist group that is trying to ban Ronald McDonald from McDonald's advertising because he is the cause of obesity in children. Really? There are 2 main causes to childhood obesity; lack of exercise and poor nutrition. Ronald McDonald cannot be held responsible for these. We need to focus on better nutrition and exercise for our children. In schools today P. E. classes are typically 30 minutes long (not even every day) with children being sedentary for the rest of the day with the exception of a brief recess. Children's bodies need exercise. Do you remember when we were kids and stayed outside playing until it got dark every day?

Getting plenty of exercise is easy and very inexpensive. The first thing to make sure children get enough exercise is to limit TV, computer, and video games. The more of these you have the easier it is to get sucked in by them and before you know it the entire evening has been wasted. Turn off your TV and computer and send your kids outside. Exercise does not have to be structured or organized. Organized sports can be a lot of fun . Soccer, Football, Baseball, swimming, Dance Lessons, Karate etc... are all great ways to get exercise. But, there are many fun activities you can do right in your own backyard. I read somewhere that the outdoors and a great imagination are all kids need. A few things that may be helpful in getting kids motivated are: balls of different sizes and shapes, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, hoola- hoops, Frisbees, jump ropes (we do not have these at our house instead of being used for exercise they tie things and people up with them), chalk, etc... all can fill your child's mind with fun activities. The other day at Walmart I bought some chalk ($1) and the children have had great fun drawing and playing hopscotch. My children love to play tag, football, basketball, soccer in our backyard. Go for a nature walk at your local park or around your neighborhood. Get outdoors and have some fun! It will start to become a habit and before you know it the entire evening will be gone and the TV was never even turned on once.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ever Wonder if They're Listening?

How do you teach your little ones? Even though we do some fun activities for my little pre-schoolers, and I read to them a lot, I do not sit down and formally "school" them until they are at least Kindergarten age. Does this mean they are not learning? Absolutely not! Just because a textbook or an activity says it is for older kids doesn't mean your younger children aren't going to learn something from it too. I am amazed all of the time by how much the little ones pick up by being in the same room and listening when I am working with the older children. Yesterday, when Anthony wanted Alex to share a toy he said, "Weren't you listening when mama was reading about Jesus wanting us to be kind to others?" Today when talking about animals that hibernate, I asked what hibernation means. Christian (3) said, " It means they are sleeping." When Alex listens to his hooked on phonics tape, the younger children crowd around and listen to it too. Kids are like little sponges, they absorb everything that is going on around them.

Monday, April 12, 2010

4 Week Old Chicks

Our chicks are getting so big! We have now separated them into two different boxes because they were getting a bit crowded in one. Art added some wooden bars for the chicks to roost on. They are looking good and healthy. We did have one get stuck in the waterer but luckily it was empty and Chelsea rescued her. Nick has been taking care of them with Chelsea's help because Alex still cannot walk easily up and down the hill. I am very proud of Nick for taking on the extra work without complaining and Chelsea for helping him.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Book Review: Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go by Lucille O' Neal with Allison Samuels

I recently was given an opportunity to read an review the book Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go by Lucille O' Neal with Allison Samuels. Lucille is the mother of NBA star Shaquille O' Neal and in this book shares the story of her struggles and disappointments as well as her favorite memories and accomplishments. She shares her many years of spiritual unrest and mental warfare and her return back to God. Her story shows that it is never too late to turn back to God and to turn your life around.

I think overall this was an uplifting story. Lucille's story shows that anyone can turn their life around. She has seen very different extremes in this life. She went from an unwed mother to an alcoholic mother of 4, then to a rich mother of a famous basketball player. Throughout all of theses different phases of her life, it was empty until she turned her life back to God.

There were a few things I did not like about this book. It is a bit repetitive. Several times the same things were written in much the same way. It is also very feministic. It is mentioned several times through the course of the book the unhappiness being "just" a wife and mother and being stuck in that position causing her unhappiness in life. I also disagreed with her position on divorce. She states in the book, "I put my happiness on the back burner and waited for God to give a sign when the time was right to leave my marriage." I believe this goes against what God wants for marriage and may wrongly encourage someone that divorce is OK.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the express purpose of reading and writing a review and received no financial compensation for this review.

Favorite Recipes: Mini Meatloaves

What a week! Injured child (you guessed it it's Alex), painful eye infection (that was me) so we spent a couple of days at the doctor's office and recovering so I have not had much time for the computer. Here is one of my favorite recipes. If your family likes meatloaf but you are tired of the same old same old this is sure to be a hit.

Mini Meatloaves

1 lb, ground beef or turkey
1 pkg Stove Top Stuffing Mix
1 cup water
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
3/4 cup cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 375. Mix meat, stuffing mix and water. Press in to 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. Make an indentation in center of each meatloaf with spoon fill with sauce. Bake 30 minutes, top with cheese and bake 5 more minutes to melt the cheese. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Iowa Test of Basic Skills

This week and next week, Arkansas Homeschoolers will be taking the Math and Reading portions of the Iowa Tests. Our testing site tested yesterday. A few things you should know if this is your first time testing:

1. Basic Skills means exactly what it says. These tests test only basic skills required for the grade level. For example, 3rd and 4th grade Math is basic addition and subtraction no mulitiplication or division.

2. The only subjects tested are Reading and Math.

3. The only grades required to test are 3-9.

4. This is not a pass/fail test. It is scored to compare your child's test scores to other children in the same grade. For example if your child scores in the 90 th percentile, it means only 10% of the children in that grade level scored higher than your child.

5. The only person who gets the results of the test is the parents. The scores are reported to the state as a whole not for each individual.

6. If your child does not do well it doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't homeschool. Some children do not do well on standardized tests. Some knowledge is not testable. Sometimes children get confused and start in the wrong section or accidentally skip a row causing the rest of their answers to be off. Do not be overly concerned if the scores come out differently than you expect. You know your child better than anyone and will be able to tell much better than a test how they are doing.

7. Expect your scores to come sometime during the summer. It takes a couple of months to get all the tests scored and mailed out.

8. This is a requirement to homeschool in Arkansas. Even though most of us think it is a little ridiculous, and the results don't really mean anything, in order to comply with Arkansas Law, you have to test. It only takes about 2 hours out of one day, and then you can go home and get back to "work."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Great Free Homeschooling Website!

The Homeschool Mom's Site of the Week this week is Budget Homeschool. This website lists by categories links to educational freebies. Some of the categories are: Art, Music, Reading, Math, Science, Cooking, Language, Preschool, and many more. I had a few minutes yesterday and clicked on music. There were links to Music Appreciation sites, free sheet music for lots of different instruments, a site for free piano lessons, and more. Click here to go to Budget Homeschool.