Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We Have An Announcement!!!!

We are so excited to announce that the newest member of our family, (baby number 7) will be arriving next March! Sorry if you have seen or talked to me lately and I didn't tell you, but I was waiting until after my doctor's appointment and I had an ultrasound. The baby looks great! Heartbeat was good and strong and he/she was moving and waving his/her arms around. Seeing the baby today and hearing the heartbeat makes all of the weeks of 24/7 nausea so worth it! Although honestly I won't miss the nausea when it is gone. We are so happy that God has decided to bless us with another baby and the children can't wait to find out if they are having a new brother or sister!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Labor of Love

As parents who homeschool our children, we serve many, many roles. We need encouragement, advice, recommendations, support, and shared experiences to help us in our role as a homeschooling parent. The Od Schoolhouse Magazine provides these and much more in every issue. My time is precious, and I only spend it reading things I believe are worthwhile. I have a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and can't wait to get the next issue.

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is extending an extraordinary
subscription offer to homeschool families. Receive a one-year print
subscription for just $7.95 or a one-year plus current issue
subscription for $12.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter
issue. The one-year plus current issue starts with the fall issue.
Only 5000 of these special subscriptions are available from August 31
through midnight on September 15. Once the 5000 are gone, they'’re gone!
Hurry and grab this crazy price today!
Don't miss out on this amazing offer! Go here and get your subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine before they are all gone!
I am receiving a complimentary ticket to the Fall Expo in exchange for sharing this advertisement.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Sunshine Award!

I was given this Blog Award a few weeks ago from Dawn at Guiding Light Homeschool a few weeks ago. Can you believe I started writing the post, then never published it? I discovered the unpublished draft as I was editing a review today. So thank you Dawn , I really do appreciate it. Please forgive my scatterbrain! Now, I have to tell you seven things about myself and pass the award on to seven other people.

1. I am originally from Western New York and am a long way from "home" living here in Arkansas.
2. I have a weakness for chocolate (I know how shocking that must be!)
3. I cannot eat soggy cereal. Really people. I pour the milk on it and if it is soggy by the time I get to the bottom I dump it out.
4. I met my husband when I was 14. We went to the same High School. Little did I know......
5. I once told Art before we were married that I could never be a Stay at Home Mom (you ever wonder if God's laughing at all the things we say we would never do?)
6. I have an obsession with never being late for anything.
7. I wouldn't trade it for anything (aren't you glad God knows better than we do!)

Now I get to pass this award on to 7 people whose blogs I enjoy. (Sorry if you have gotten it already.)

1. Superjerl
2. Ozark Ramblings
3. One Blessed Mama
4. Homeschool Success
5. Because of Our Children
6. Happily Homeschooling
7. Cobwebs and Kisses

TOS Crew Review: Peterson Directed Handwriting


Are you looking for a handwriting program that teaches more than trace and copy? Does your child often need more than one page worth of practice that handwriting books normally allow for? Is it hard for your child to write in a handwriting book, or does he/she complain about writing making their hands hurt? Peterson Directed Handwriting might be just what you are looking for!

Description: Peterson Directed Handwriting is not your typical trace and copy handwriting program. It is a method and materials for teaching fluid print and cursive handwriting skills. Their method uses training your muscles to make steps rhythmically instead of drawing letters from memory using 4 steps.

1.Illustrate and Describe-color/rhythm model exaggerates movement process and demonstrates start point and direction. Students are taught to chant action words.

2. Air Writing- write in the air while actions movements are chanted using various muscle groups: right hand, right elbow, left hand, left elbow, etc.

3. Finger Tracing- use pointer finger to trace color, rhythm strokes while chanting.

4. Write and Say- initially on unlined paper until consistency is mastered then make the switch to lined paper.

Proper paper placement and pencil holding are emphasized to produce good fluidity of movement and comfort while writing. Each level is sold as a separate E-Workbook. There a 3 levels for print: Print Step 1 for Kindergarten (68 pages), Print Step 2 for 1st grade (55 pages), and Print Step 3 Printing Fluidly (31 pages). There are also 4 levels for cursive. The cost of each E-book for an individual licence is $19.95, and a building licence is $29.95. Since you own the licence, this enables you to print out as many pages as you would like for your own personal use. You are able to view each E-book in its entirety (print function is disabled) by going here.

There is a lot of customer support on the Peterson Website. Live chat meetings are several times daily and there are several pages of information, slides shows and more here.

In their Web Store, they also sell tools such as pencil grippers, special pens, and tools for proper paper placement. These are not required but may be helpful to your child. You can find their Web store here.

How we used the product:I used Print Step 1 with Alex (6) and Anthony (5.) I printed off all of the pages of the E-Workbook and then laminated them so we could get more usage out of them without having to print out extra papers. The boys used a wet erase marker instead of a pencil on the laminated sheets so we could erase and use it over again. We did one letter a day and spent about 15-20 minutes a day on Handwriting.

What we liked: I like the concept of more than just a copy and trace method of handwriting. I liked having the pages printed out and flat on the table making it easier than writing in a workbook. I also liked that if your child is having trouble with a specific number or letter you can print as many copies as you need to use. The boys thought that the finger tracing and air writing was a lot of fun. They also enjoyed the fact that their handwriting work only took about 15-20 minutes a day. Also, you only have to buy the product once to and it can be used for multiple children which can be a huge cost savings over buying a new workbook for each child every year.

Some things to consider: There is not a whole lot of teacher instruction in the manual and there are no day to day lesson plans written out for you. In addition to the cost of buying the E-Workbook, you also have to factor in the additional cost of printing the pages out. The pages are in color to show the different strokes, but they can be printed in gray scale to save on the cost of colored ink. It is not the kind of program you can have your child do on their own. Parent involvement is required on this program.

My recommendation: I think it is a great program. Although there is not a lot of written teacher instruction there is excellent customer support. I have enjoyed using it with the boys and plan to continue using it throughout the school year.

I received complimentary copies of Print Step 1,2,and 3 for the purpose of using them with my children and writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Technology Can Be a Wonderful Thing

This week's Blog Cruise topic is the use of technology in your homeschool. As I discover quite often (especially this morning ironically enough....don't ask) that technology is a wonderful thing when it is working correctly. I love having a laptop computer and being able to google anything that the children have a question about as soon as they ask it or something that we need to have more information on. Although my fear of the children accidentally clicking on an incorrect link and coming up with something inappropriate, makes using the internet possible only under supervision. There are a few sites that I do let them use (pbs.kids, starfall, spelling city, nickjr, poptropica)as long as they stay on that site. We also have a wireless printer and I love that I can print projects out off my favorite sites from my laptop anywhere in the house.

My digital camera is another one of my favorites. Anyone can take a good picture on a digital camera (and if you didn't you can see it right away and delete it.) Not only is it great taking pictures of the children, but I can also take pictures off all of those Art Projects and Crafts that the children want to keep around forever but we don't have storage space for. After a specified amount of time we take a photograph, add it to their notebooks, and throw the project away.

The Wii and I have a love/hate relationship. Even though we have specific boundaries and rules for playing the Wii, it can still drive me crazy. Not many of the games that we have our educational, but some are very active sports games. Last Fall we had several weeks of down pouring rain and thunderstorms that left us unable to go outside for days at a time. Kids need exercise, so we used some of the Wii Sports, and Wii Fit Games as our P.E. activities. Although it would not have been my first choice for exercise, it really worked in the situation we were in.

Having a DVR is something I never really thought about until we had one. Television commercials have become as bad, if not worse than most of the shows on television. For that reason, if there is something special or eductational on TV, I DVR the shows so we don't have to watch the commercials.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Since I started homeschooling 6 years ago, a 4 day school week has always worked well for us. Fridays are the day of the week we reserve for all the other "stuff" that needs to be done that is hard to fit in in a school day. Since we live 20 minutes from town, I try to get all of our errands done in one day to save time and gas. We also usually go to the park and play on Fridays, but this summer has been so hot we have not been since June. Now, I am not being wimpy here. We have had several weeks of over 100 degree temperatures making being outside downright miserable. The children have missed going to the park a lot this summer so I was very glad that yesterday cooled down to a comfortable 93 degrees and we were able to go back. First we went to the Farmer's Co-op and then the library. We had a great experience at the library. Sadly, I don't always take all of the children to the library. Our librarians are not always kid friendly and we have had some very unpleasant experiences there. Next we headed off to the park and the weather was so nice, and the children had so much fun we hated to leave but we still had to head to Walmart to get groceries. We all earned a treat to eat in the car on the way home.

Friday nights are still pizza and a movie night. The children think it's fun to get to eat in the living room and watch TV. Usually I make the pizza, but every once in awhile I buy frozen (like last night.) We finished off our Friday with a Reese's Dessert that Nick picked out and Chelsea made. I am so glad that our Fridays are getting back to"normal."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Visit to the Dentist

Back to the dentist yesterday. Alex had a small cavity in one his back molars that needed to be filled, so we loaded up and drove 1 hr and 20 minutes back to the dentist. We were the only ones there and they got him in and out quickly. Although he was a little nervous, he was very brave and probably handled it better than I did from the waiting room. When we were done we went through McDonald's Drive Thru for snack size McFlurries (what a treat! ice cream before lunch!) and then headed back on the long drive home. When we got home Alex complained of a headache so I gave him some Tylenol and he fell asleep (not like him at all.) When he got up he was running a fever. My first reaction was to call the dentist who said that children can run fever after dental work if they chew on the inside of their cheek and to do warm salt water rinses, give Tylenol, and call back in the morning. I was very worried that he might be developing an infection or something from the filling, but after talking to Alex some more, he said he had a small headache before we went to the dentist. So now I think he was already on his way to being sick before he went (I do have some mommy guilt over that.) Today his fever is down, but he is still complaining of a headache. Hopefully he will be feeling better soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to School

Yesterday was our first official back to school. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we wade in gently and add a few subjects at a time for the first couple of weeks until we are back at a full schedule. We got off to a bit of a slow start yesterday but overall it was a very productive day. The morning chores took a little longer than usual due to procrastination (kids procrastinating at chores?) but we got back on track quickly. For this week Nick, Alex, and Anthony are doing Bible, Read Aloud, Handwriting, and we did some computer investigation on a few animals that we were unfamiliar with (more on that another time.) They were also determined to do a craft, so each of the boys grabbed a craft book. Alex made finger puppets, Anthony a fireman hat, Nick an airplane, and Christian bunny ears.

Chelsea worked on Algebra, Spanish, History, Bible, and Literature. When I gave her the 9th grade Abeka Literature Book, she told me that she had already read through all of it fir fun over the summer. Hmmmmmm...... I do not want to bore her by making her read it again so I am going to have to come up with something else. We are planning on reading through Sonlight's Core 100 readers and literature anyway, maybe that will be enough if I add in some writing assignments. She is also trying to teach herself how to play the guitar and spent some time practicing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Cost of Homeschooling

If you have ever read this blog, or even look at my blog title, you can guess that I am a big believer in homeschooling. I read a question that a lady was asking who really wanted to homeschool but was afraid that she couldn't afford it. While there is a cost to homeschooling, when you compare the costs to going to public school you may be surprised to see that it can be less expensive to homeschool.

Chelsea went to public school for K-2 grade. Every year there were things we had to buy for her to go to school. Keep in mind that these dollar amounts were from 6 years ago. I spent around $150 a year for her clothes and shoes. In addition to that we had a list from the school that were "required school supplies." The list was quite extensive and included everything from crayons and pencils to hand sanitizer, paper towels, and tissues. By the time I bought all of these and a backpack the cost was close to $100 dollars and the supplies didn't even last the whole year. Then, the teacher had a list that was sent home the first day of school with additional supplies anywhere from $10-25. School lunches were $1.50 a day which equals out to about $270 a year if she bought a lunch every day. We didn't have any transportation costs to drive to school and back because the school was in our backyard (really it was right behind our house.) Then there is extra expenses for fieldtrips and extra curricular activities. Cost for one year for one student was about $545.

This year I have 4 children who are school age. I do have to still buy clothes and shoes, but we don not spend as much money on those things as we did when Chelsea went to school. We shop sales and yard sales and hand down as much as we can and spend about $300/year on clothing for 8 people. I spend about $25 a year (total) buying those great .25 crayons, .15 notebooks, and other things we need. I do have to feed the children at home too. My grocery budget for food and household supplies is $150 per week. I figured this out to be .60 per person, per day for lunches. Cost for 4 children at home for 1 year equals out to $607.

Curriculum does cost money too. You can spend very little or thousands of dollars for one student depending on what you buy. You can homeschool for free if you choose to use the Internet and library books. I love to buy curriculum ( I have admitted before that I am a curriculum junkie) but you don't have to spend a lot of money to give your children a good education. I have spent $200 this year and curriculum for 4 children. I sold $100 worth of books on ebay in order to pay for most of it, leaving an out of pocket cost for me of $100 this year. Using my previous numbers, I could have spent $1500 this year on curriculum and come out cheaper than if all four of my school aged children were in public school.

I don't mean for this to be a boring mix of numbers. I am just trying to show the point that public school might cost more than you think. Obviously every family is different and very families needs are different. I urge you to not let worry over the cost of homeschooling deter you from educating your children at home. God is faithful. If he calls you to homeschool your children, he will provide you with the means to do it. Spend a lot of time in prayer asking God to show you what you need and to provide those things for you.

So do not worry saying, What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after theses things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6 31-33.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Schoolhouse Expo Tickets On Sale Now!

It's back to homeschool time and registration is open for the online Schoolhouse Expo, October 4-8. It's five days of top homeschool speakers, fellowship, and fun door prizes.

Save $5 per ticket! Register between August 16 and midnight August 22, and you'll pay only $19.99. Plus you'll receive over $200 in free E-Books.

You'll be inspired by speakers including: Zan Tyler, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright,Carol Barnier, Diana Waring, Todd Wilson, Davis Carman, Kim Kautzer, Lee Binz, and many more!

A special teen track is planned--the entire family will definitely want to listen to these special sessions. We've also planned a special focus on a topic that touches every homeschool--writing. Plus, an array of other topics that will inform and inspire you throughout your homeschooling years.

Don't forget, MP3 copies of each session comes with your LIVE event ticket.

Two special preconference shows on August 24 and September 21 with Dr.
Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, and Kim Kautzer!

Register starting 12:01 a.m. on Monday, August 16.

The theme this fall is "Celebrate Homeschooling!" We're going to celebrate the unique blessings of homeschooling, the beginning of another school year, our families, and the freedom to tailor our children's education to best meet their needs.

If you cannot make the Live event, then the October Expo To Go is just your ticket! You'll reserve MP3s from all of the workshops. This week only, pay just $14.95!

Cick here for more information about this exciting event!

I received a complimentary ticket for this event in exchange for posting this advertisement.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Change of Plans

One of the many benefits to homeschooling is the ability to be flexible. This is a very good thing since all of my "plans" for this week have changed. My brother who had been unemployed since last May has a new job. So, him , his wife, and my two sweet little nephews will be moving out of my parents house in NWA and heading to North Carolina this Friday. Since I do not know when we will be able to see them again, the children and I are loading up the van today and heading out tomorrow to go to my parents house to spend a few days with them and see them off. This week's school plans will be pushed off until next week (glad I laminated those planner pages so I can just erase and start over.) I am praying for my brother and his family that they will have a safe trip, that this will be a good experience for all of them, and that the boys will have an easy adjustment.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Easing Back Into School

Boy this summer has gone by fast! We have of course been very busy, but it seems like we just ended our school year and now it is time to begin a new one. Instead of jumping right back into a full schedule and causing large amounts of stress for me and the urge to run screaming from the room from the children, we prefer an easing back into school approach. Monday we are heading to the big city for a visit to the Pediatric Dentist (no cavities, just checkups for everyone but Lily.) As a celebration for being good at the dentist :) plus a back to School celebration, we will get to visit the McDonalds with the playplace. Happymeals for everyone and I might even be talked into the new snack size McFlurries. The rest of the week we will have a "light" school schedule working on just a couple of subjects every day. We are starting with Bible/character, Handwriting, Art, Read Aloud, and a little Math. Next week I will add in Science and History, and finally Language Arts and Spelling, and Spanish and Home Ec for Chelsea the next week. This approach worked very well for me last year to get both me and the children back into a "normal" routine. My biggest challenge this year is about 18 months old, very cute, but very nosy. Keeping her out of trouble and occupied while we are working will be interesting especially since we will all be in the living room or dining room. We have survived homeschooling with a toddler many times before and we will again this year. I am looking for ward to the new school year and all of the fun things we are going to learn and do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Not Back to School Blog Hop School Room Week

Where do you do "school?" This is a picture of our schoolroom/playroom. Usually the shelves are filled with books, desks line one wall, and toys line the other. Right now, we are under construction and will not be starting our school year in our school room. The shelves and walls are getting a new coat of paint, the cupboards are getting drawers made that pull out and can store toys in, and the floor is getting brand new tile. I would like to get a table for Art projects, and a small carpet and bean bag chairs for a reading area also. I can't wait for this project to be completed. It is going to take awhile, but will be worth it. So, in the meantime, we will be doing "school' in the living room and at the kitchen table. I expect this to be the hardest on Nick (8) who really likes being able to go down to his desk and do his independent work without anyone bothering him. I will probably have to ban Alex, Anthony, and Christian from the dining room while Nick is working. We may be a little more disorganized than usual with books and supplies not all being in one space, but we will manage just fine until we "move" back downstairs. I am really excited about starting school back up again and can't wait to get started on some of our fun projects!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

4-H Home Furnishings Workshop

You may have noticed that we do a lot of stuff with the 4-H. For the last two days, Chelsea has been attending a Home Furnishings Workshop. The cost of the workshop was only $5 for miscellaneous supplies, plus we spent $10 on fabric. They did most of the sewing by hand, but also learned how to use a serger (Chelsea thinks we need to buy one now.) She made: a picture frame jewelry holder, wall art, magnetic memo board, magazine organizer, a decorated crate, and an envelope pillow. All of these items will be entered in the county fair in a few weeks. Didn't she do a great job?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Review: The Jesus You Can't Ignore by John MacArthur

I just finished reading the book, The Jesus You Can’t Ignore What You Must Learn From the Bold Confrontations of Christ by John MacArthur. “ What you think of Jesus Christ will thoroughly color how you think of everything else.” The way we look at what we know about Jesus affects the way we see the world, ourselves, our families, and God. Often, Jesus is portrayed as a meek and mild Jesus who spoke of peace and goodwill, healed the sick, and calmed fears. While this is a part of Jesus, it does not show the whole picture of who He was. He also declared the truth without apologies, angering and offending many of the religious leaders of his day. In this book, John MacArthur goes through the gospels and ,”shows a remarkable and compelling picture of the Jesus you can’t ignore.”

This was a very interesting book. Today, too often when speaking about religion or the Bible, we feel the need to make sure we stay on “safe” topics and not run the risk of offending anyone. There is no such thing as absolute truth and any and all interpretations of the Bible and religion is to be accepted. I wonder what Jesus thinks about our world and our religious leaders today?

I would definitely recommend this book. John MacArthur presents his points and backs them up with Scripture showing a full view of the Savior. Not only do we see the Jesus who loved the sinners, healed with compassion, and paid the wages of our sin with his death on the cross. We also see how he took on the religious leaders of the times, upending their tables in the temples, breaking their rules, and calling them out for the hypocrites that they were.

The introduction of this book was a bit hard to read through and I found it a little on the dull side, but once I got into the actual book, I could not put it down. I also would like to mention that I think this book would be very hard to read and understand with out a good amount of biblical knowledge. Somebody who is not already familiar with the Bible and trying to learn about Jesus would have a hard time picking up this book and understanding it.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Making Parachutes

The boys were going through the Usborne Big Book of Things to Do, looking for something to make. They decided to make parachutes and have races to see what was going to land first. Nick and Alex raced Lego men, Anthony a little people farmer, and Christian Lightning McQueen.
To make the parachutes they used plastic Walmart bags and cut them into a rectangle shape, folded it into a triangle and cut it out, leaving them with a square. Then they poked a hole in each corner, and tied a piece of yarn into each hole. They brought all four pieces of string together and tied them into a knot forming the parachute. After that, they taped their racer of choice to the knot on the thread.
This activity kept them busy for quite awhile. Even today they got their parachutes back out and took them outside to see who would win. Can you guess who hits the ground first?

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Best Brownies Ever

Thursday when I was making my grocery list, Nick and Alex got out my cookbook and started going through the desserts. They picked a few they would like to try and marked the pages. Then, they picked their favorite recipe and wrote down the ingredients. We made these brownies on Saturday night and they were voted the best ever by my family.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup M and M's
Combine sugar and butter (for the brownies not the frosting) beat until light and fluffy. Add syrup, eggs, and vanilla beating until well blended. Add in flour and chocolate chips. Spread into greased 13x9 pan and bake for 33-38 minutes. Cool completely.
In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and milk for frosting. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue boiling for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Spread over brownies and sprinkle evenly with M and M's.