Our Family

Our Family

Monday, December 31, 2012

My End of Year Thoughts

I don't really make New Year's Resolutions.  Yes, we will continue to work on paying off our debt.  Yes, I would really like to lose the 5 pounds I have gained over this holiday season ; ).  Yes, I want to read and study my Bible more and have more patience for my children.  These are not really New Year's Resolutions, but an ongoing work in progress.
I have however been seeing posts by people who are going to be working on, focusing on, one important word or focus for the upcoming New Year.  I have been thinking and thinking about this over the last few days and I do think that is a good idea.  So after looking back on this year and trying to look forward to next year, I have deiced my word or focus is "Grace."  I want to give more grace to strangers in the grocery store who make rude comments about the size of my family.  I want to give more grace to those that are openly against my decision to homeschool.  I want to extend more grace to those who have hurt me.  I want to give more grace to everyone around me, but also to myself.  I want to stop expecting perfection in myself.  I want  to go into the New Year knowing that I am not responsible for the choices of others and will not be weighed down any longer by guilt that is not my own.  Grace.  That is going to be my word.

Looking back on 2012 is hard.  It was a hard year, but there also was a whole lot of good too.  I continue to stand on the promise in Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."  We have a wonderful life together, 7 beautiful healthy children, and more blessings then we can count.  Instead of looking back on the things that were hard, we will focus on all the ones that were good and look forward to all of the blessings our future holds.

 My favorite memories of 2012 were definitely during our vacation to Dauphin Island. We rented a house right on the beach.   It was the best vacation we have ever had!  It was so wonderful to be on that beach and have nothing special to do, nowhere special to go, just have time to enjoy each and other and play with the children.  We had the whole beach to ourselves most of the time.  There is something about the beach that draws me to it.  I just love standing on the beach, looking out over the ocean where it meets the sky.  I don't even have to swim (although of course I do for the children.)  I could just sit there for hours!  I hope we will be able to go back someday.

A few pictures:

We are ringing in the New Year at home, just the 9 of us.  We are enjoying pizza, chicken wings, shrimp, potato chips, and cookies while streaming Netflix movies.  The children want to stay up until midnight and daddy said they could quietly in their beds (they won't really stay awake that late.)  I don't know if we will either but I do know that this is my favorite way to spend every day, with my family.

Happy New Year!

Cleaning Off The Shelves: For Sale Apologia, All About Spelling, and More

It seems like no matter how many book shelves you have, when you homeschool it is never enough!  I need to sell a few things to make room for some new ones and was hoping I could bless somebody else with them.  Prices do not include shipping.  I will add shipping once you email me your zip code.  Shipping will be Media Mail unless you specify another service.  Payment will be Paypal only, unless you are local.  Prices are negotiable.  Email me if you have any questions!

Apologia Who Is My Neighbor: Hardcover Text,Notebooking Journal, Coloring Book asking $40

Apologia I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist: Book and Workbook asking $25

All About Spelling Level 1 Plus Basic Interactive Kit New in Package asking $50.00 

British History Student and Teacher James P. Stobaugh asking $20

Saxon Math 2 Teacher’s Manual asking $15
Scott Foresman 4th Grade Reading Street: 2 hardcover texts, Guide on the Side Instruction Booklet,  Teacher Resource DVD, Exam View Assessment CD asking $30

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Secretly Smitten




Summer, fall, winter, spring—Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!

There’s a secret in Grandma Rose’s attic—a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?

The mystery intrigues Rose’s three granddaughters—Tess, Clare, and Zoe—and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women?

Join popular romance novelists—and real-life BFFs—Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for four delightful intertwined tales of mystery and sweet intrigue.


I reviewed the first book in this series Smitten last year.  I liked the idea and the setting for the story and was intrigued by the author collaboration as I have enjoyed several of these authors in the past.  Some of the characters in the first book disappointed me, but I decided to give the second book ,Secretly Smitten, a try anyway.  I really enjoyed it!  I loved each of the characters separate stories and the mystery and family ties that wove the stories together. I loved the continued story of the growing town of Smitten and the characters of the last book being brought in in small ways in this one, just like it would really happen in a small town.  I loved that it focused not just on “young love” as many Christian romances tend to do, but instead showed love can exist for all ages young and old.  I though that both the men and women main characters showed wonderful character qualities.  I loved some of the ideas they come up with to keep their town and businesses afloat.  The mystery behind the story was a very interesting element.  I loved the ending and look forward to more books being written in this series.  I think if you are looking for a light hearted Christian romance you won’t be disappointed by Secretly Smitten.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e book copy of Secretly Smitten for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A White Christmas

A week or so ago, my husband sent me a text message and asked me if I had seen the extended forecast for Christmas.  I hadn't, so I grabbed the iPad to take a look.  They were saying we had about a 40% chance of snow on Christmas.  I answered him back and said, "Yeah right.  Like we are really going to have snow on Christmas!"  We do get snow at least once or twice a year, but not usually until the end of January or February, and it doesn't hang around very long.  A few years ago we had snow flurries on Christmas Eve, but it melted as soon as it hit the ground.

The forecast changed a few times throughout the week.  We knew we were going to get some kind of precipitation and what and how much depended on the path of the storm and how quick the temperature was going to fall.

Christmas Morning, we were woken up very early by a huge thunderstorm!  The pouring down rain continued for most of the afternoon.  Around supper time, snow started to fall.  And continued to fall at a pretty good rate for several hours.  We did get a white Christmas after all!  Thankfully, we didn't loose power and we were at home for Christmas so we didn't have to travel.

First thing this morning I bundled up the children so they could go outside.  Snow is VERY exciting for children (especially when you don't see it very often!) but man is it a lot of work for mom. The children had a great time playing in the snow.  We have a great hill for sledding and a plastic sled.  They also made snow angels and a snowman.  Even though quite a bit of the snow melted we still had a lot on the ground when the sun went down.  Maybe they will get to sled again tomorrow.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

I took that picture (and enhanced it a bit) of the nativity that my mother made in 1984 and has sat under our tree ever since.  As a child it was my favorite Christmas decoration. This nativity does include the three wise men in the scene although they are not actually a part of the "birth" of Christ (they didn't appear til much later) they are an important part of the history surrounding Christ's birth.

 Matthew 2: 2-23
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

As a child, the nativity was just a beautiful decoration to help us remember why we celebrate Christmas.  As an adult (and a mother), my  amazement over  the story of Christ's birth continues to grow.  The idea that the Lord would give up his heavenly throne to be born amongst the animals and laid in a manger to live the life of a human and give the ultimate sacrifice for mankind to save ME (and you) from my sins can be so unbelievable, but that's what He did.  The idea that Mary trusted God and His will for her life is another amazing part of the story.  Would we do the same?  Can you imagine what she thought, or felt, or even what other people had to say about her.  She could've said, "No, I can't do this God.  It is the wrong time for me to have a baby.  I have no husband." or other things she could have said.  She didn't though.  She trusted God and knew that His will for her life was much more important that hers.  And Joseph?  How could he have felt when he found out his future wife was pregnant?  He could've publicly disgraced her and called off the marriage but he too trusted God and did what he was told to do.

I cannot imagine the hardships they endured on their journey.  Having given birth 7 times, I cannot comprehend what it must have been like to been in labor while traveling and end up giving birth in a dirty, smelly stable full of animals.  I also think about Mary holding, nursing, and caring for Jesus.  Did she really know fully who He was?  I love this verse, "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." As a mom I am humbled and in awe of the fact that the Lord has entrusted me in the raising and care of these seven beautiful children.  I do not know what they will do and be when they grow up, just that my purpose here on earth is to be their mother.  Mary was the one chosen to give birth to the Lord himself!  Amazing!  

I try to imagine (and paint a mental picture for the children when we read this part of the Bible) what it was like for the shepherds.  Having one angel appear to them was shocking enough but then, "suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."  Can you imagine!  Amazing!

I always tell the children that this is only the beginning of the story.  The birth of Christ is truly amazing!  But, that is not the end of the story.  The most amazing part was yet to come. Jesus came to this earth to give the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I can be together with Him in paradise forever when we did nothing to deserve it.  All you have to do is believe Jesus is the Son of God ,repent, and ask Him into your heart.  

It is just us for Christmas this year.  We are not even going to church because Lily is sick.  I am praying she feels better today and no one else gets sick.  So we are staying home, baking, wrapping gifts, watching Christmas movies, and reading the Bible.  The children are VERY  excited and already asking what time they can get up tomorrow.  

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Last Day of Homeschool for 2012

I confess I am not very good at making and keeping lesson plans.  I really like to be able to be flexible not just because of the possibility of sick days, but also to fit in plenty of real life learning experiences as opportunities become available.  Being on the Schoolhouse Review Crew also requires a certain amount of flexibility.  I have in the past had up to 12 review products at one time plus our "regular" school work.

To keep on track throughout the year, we do follow a routine with our schoolwork.  Math and writing are pretty simple, one page per school day.  Science 2 days per week, History 2 days per week.  If we miss one day we will double up on the other day.  Spelling (All About Spelling) is one of those subjects you can't really plan out (same with PAL.)  How fast you move really depends on the child and how quickly he understands.  Some spelling lessons may only take a day or two and others may take a week or two!  I really do not stress about how long it takes us to complete something, we finish when we finish. 

Originally, I planned on having a "normal" school week this week.  But we were actually ahead of where I thought we would be in both History and Science and close to good stopping places in Math, Reading, Writing, and Spelling.  So I decided this would be a light week.  I thought it would be fun to take a day off and go to the museum (which ended up taking up two days read my previous blog post.)  Then Wednesday I had a dentist appointment in the morning so we only ended up doing afternoon school work.  Today we spent our morning school time reading through several chapters of the Bible on the birth of Jesus.  After that we watched Veggie Tales The Star of Christmas.

The boys were completing their Math a little while ago and said that this was the last time they would have to do school work this year!  I hadn't even thought of that!  We will take off school until Art goes back to work after the new year.  I am very pleased with all of the curriculum we have used this year and the children's progress.  I look forward to starting back in the new year and reviews starting up again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Museum Adventure

I decided to do something somewhat spontaneous.  Since we are actually "ahead" of where I thought we would be in most of our school work, and since the children had been asking when we could go back to Mid America Science Museum (we bought family passes for the year), and since the weather was supposed to be very nice on Monday, I decided we would go to the museum.  We got up in the morning, did some house cleaning, and left for Hot Springs (little over an hour drive) right after lunch.  I hopped on the museum's website and checked their calendar to make sure nobody had scheduled a big field trip, and since they hadn't we figured a Monday afternoon was a great time to go.  Until we got there and discovered that they now are closed on Mondays in the fall and winter.  No mention of that in the event calendar but it was under hours of operation.  So now I have a van full of unhappy children!  We went to Chick-fil-A and got ice cream and played in the play place.  I told the children we would go back to the museum the next day.

This morning we left right after breakfast and chores to be there when they opened at 10.  Anthony (7) said, "Mom, this time can we go in the museum?"  Thanks buddy.  As if I didn't feel bad enough!  Anyway we got there and they were open!!  We were the only people there except for one other homeschool family.  I talked to the mom for a few minutes while all of the children were in the cave.  Her family was traveling through Arkansas (they were from Wisconsin) and were told by some friends that Mid America was a great place for them to go while in the Hot Springs area.  They went to the museum yesterday too not knowing it was closed on Mondays!!! That actually made me feel a little better.  They decided to stay a day in Hot Springs and spent the night at a hotel so they could go back today.

The children had a great time!  We stayed about 3 hours and by that point the baby was very tired (tired enough to throw a screaming fit in the gift shop.)  As usual their favorite parts of the museum were the cave, worm tunnel, dinosaur dig, and building with the Keva planks.  Alex's tower was taller than he was!! They also love feeding the fish in the pond outside.  We tried to eat our lunch at the picnic tables by the pond because it was such a beautiful day, but once the food came out lots and lots of bees came out too, so we had to head in to eat.   On our way home,  Christian asked if we could go back tomorrow.  Sorry buddy.  Two days in a row driving 2.5 hours, plus gas money twice, $20 at Chick-fil-A for ice cream, and $12 at Walgreens for drinks and snacks for the ride home way over ran my budget for going to the museum!  Good thing we didn't have to pay to get in.  I did tell them we will try and go again next month, but not on a Monday!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Homeschool Art Class 12/7/2012 and 12/14/2012

I forgot to post about  last week's Homeschool Art  Class, and then forgot to bring my camera this week.  For the month of December, we have been working on Christmas stuff in class.  Last week the children made paper plate Santas, water color Christmas paintings, and ornaments they drew and colored on foam backing.

Thursday night, Alex decided he needed to make a present for our Art teacher.  So he constructed 3, 3 dimensional trees out of construction paper, decorated them with paper ornaments and stars, and attached them to a paper platform.  They turned out so cute!!  I did not get a picture of them before he gave them to her.  He was quite proud and she loved them!  One of our projects that day was to make 3 dimensional paper trees, but Alex didn't mind making them again.  We also made Christmas cards, and a drawing of a Christmas scene.  No photos since I forgot my camera.  I could have taken a few with my phone, but I didn't think about it.  We only have one more class in 2012!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Very Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

A few weeks ago, I was looking for suggestions for a great read aloud for Christmas.  I wanted a chapter book that would work for a wide variety of ages.  I had numerous suggestions for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.  As soon as I heard the name, it sounded familiar to me.  It was one of the books that were part of a Sonlight Core (although I am not sure which one since they have changed the names) that I had done with Chelsea several years ago.  We did not have the book though, since we borrowed the audio book from one of the libraries in "the big city."  So I hopped on the Barnes and Noble website and bought it for the Nook for $5.99.  We began reading it the next day (I love that about ebooks!!  no waiting for them to come in the mail.)

Description: "The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.
None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale -- the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating -- has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year's pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever."

It didn't take very long at all to read.  I did a chapter a day for seven days.  The book was only 51 pages long.  I really could've read more than a chapter a day, but I wanted to make it last a little longer.  It was a great story!!!  First of all, it is really funny.  There were times I had to stop reading because I was laughing so hard.  I love the author's style of writing.  But, the second great thing about this book is the message.  It may be at times hard to give grace to a family like the Herdmans.  But, when we focus too much time on potlucks and pageants rather then spreading the gospel message to those who haven't heard it, our focus is in the wrong place.  The Very Best Christmas Pageant conveys that message loud and clear.  The book is written through a child's perspective and because of that it makes this message very understandable to the children you are reading to.  We loved The Very Best Christmas Pageant Ever and would highly recommend it!

I am linking up to Debra's Read Aloud Challenge.  Come on over and link up your read aloud adventures!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: Every Perfect Gift by Dorothy Love


"Ethan and Sophie long to share a future together. But the secrets they’re not sharing could tear them apart.
Sophie Caldwell has returned to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee after years away. Despite the heartaches of her childhood, Sophie is determined to make a home, and a name, for herself in the growing town. A gifted writer, she plans to resurrect the local newspaper that so enchanted her as a girl.
Ethan Heyward’s idyllic childhood was shattered by a tragedy he has spent years trying to forget. An accomplished businessman and architect, he has built a majestic resort in the mountains above Hickory Ridge, drawing wealthy tourists from all over the country.
When Sophie interviews Ethan for the paper, he is impressed with her intelligence and astounded by her beauty. She's equally intrigued with him but fears he will reject her if he learns about her shadowed past. Just as she summons the courage to tell him, Ethan’s own past unexpectedly and violently catches up with him, threatening not only his life but their budding romance."

I had an opportunity to review the first book in this series, Beyond All Measure and really enjoyed it.  Somehow, I missed the second one, and because of that almost did not choose this book to review.  But, because each of the books focus on a different character, I thought I could read this one now and go back to Beauty For Ashes later.

First of all, even  as an ebook, the cover was simply stunning!!  I was thrilled to learn that Every Perfect Gift focuses on Sophie, the ward of Wyatt and Ada Caldwell all grown up and back in Hickory Ridge.  Sophie is able to reconnect with those from her past, both friends and those who rebuked her as a child, and grow new friendships along the way.  She is independent and determined to make a success of herself.  She shows good character and determination to do and make things right and accepts responsibility for her mistakes. 

I enjoyed reading Sophie's story and "seeing" the lady she has grown to be.  The author did a good job in the resolution of Sophie trying to discover her past and head towards her future.   Ethan's story, secret and resolution was well done also.    There are some feminist undertones in the story (a woman determined to be successful on her own in a profession dominated by men.)  I was glad to revisit those we had already met in Hickory Ridge and was surprised by how they turned out.  I also liked meeting the new characters especially Sophie's new best fiend.  I was happy to see that in the end the characters should courage to stand up to those that were wrong, even though it came at a cost.  I look forward to reading other stories in the future by Dorothy Love.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ebook copy of Every Perfect Gift for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Homeschooling Sacrifice

Last night, Chelsea and I went to serve at our local soup kitchen.  It is open once a week and our church does a rotation once a quarter preparing the food, serving, and cleaning up.  There were several volunteers (isn't it a great problem to have more than enough!!!) so we had a bit of down time and I ended up in a conversation with one of the coordinators once he found out not only that I homeschooled , but that we had seven children.  He really was very sweet and absolutely amazed at the sacrifice that homeschooling families are willing to make.  That conversation really got me thinking and I just new I had to write a blog post about it.

When people think of homeschooling sacrifices, they usually focus on the mom.  Yes we are the ones in the day to day raising and educating our children.  I do not think of it much in the way of a sacrifice.  I adore being home with my children (even though it can at times be very challenging!!!) and wouldn't want it any other way.  For me, it's kind of like having babies.  Being sick for months on end, childbirth, recovering, is all so worth it when you get to hold that beautiful baby for the first time.  All the work and effort I put in to raising my children is so worth the effort.  We only have a short time to prepare them for eternity!!!

But really I wanted to talk about the amazing dad behind the homeschool mom.  Though he may not be involved in all of the nitty gritty homeschool work, or even have the faintest idea which math curriculum we are using this year (although since he reads this blog, he should!) he is the one who makes the amazing sacrifices so we can homeschool.  It is not easy to raise and support a family of nine on one income!  He could have easily said no to my desire to homeschool and sent me to work or even decided to not have the children at all due to increased costs and financial strain.  There have been many times he has taken jobs on the side or even sold his prized possessions in order to provide for this family.  This homeschool dad has put aside his own desires to finish a car and motorcycle he wants to builds because the money is always needed somewhere else.  He works 10 hours or more a day while his wife and family get to go on field trips to museums, zoos, take Art Classes, and have play dates at the park.  He has NEVER once questioned anything I have thought I needed for school supplies.  Whether it has been a new curriculum, mp3 player for Alex to listen to stories, an aquatic frog friend, or even an iPad, the educational needs of our family has always come first.  This homeschool dad drives all the way home from work to pick up a child and drive all the way back to town and not get supper until 9:00 pm at night because his daughter had a community service that she wanted to take part in.  He even takes it well when it has been a rotten day and he is fed pancakes for supper (again!) because his wife forgot to take meat out of the freezer.  Instead of fixing things that are broken or building things by himself he takes the time to teach and involve his sons so they too will know how to fix things for their own families.  This homeschool dad is teaching his sons by his example how to grow up and raise a family of their own someday, even though they don't know that yet.  Our homeschool could not exist without his love, support, encouragement, and sacrifices.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Our Gingerbread House 2012

Every year the children like to decorate a Gingerbread House.  We do not eat it (ok they do eat some of the candy as they are decorating it.)  We use it as a centerpiece for our table.  We like to find the kits that have the house already built and you just have to decorate because we can never get the walls to stay up.  I thought that was what I bought but I didn't pay close enough attention and the house had to be assembled.  Since we don't eat the house anyway we decided to use hot glue to put it together (shhhh don't give away my secret!)  It worked really well and quickly so the children could get right to work.  Chelsea did the icing and the others decorated.  I think it was our best one yet.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Froggy Friend

Our tadpole has grown his back legs and has started growing his front legs.  After they grow in and his tail disappears he will be a frog.  Since he is an aquatic frog, he spends his whole life in the water.  Nicholas wanted to get the bigger habitat for when he changed into a frog and a froggy friend.  Grow a Frog  (the company that we got the tadpole from) has a special that when you order the Stage 2 habitat it would come with Stage 2 Food, water crystals, sand, decorations, and a froggy friend for $14.95 plus shipping.  There is a guarantee on the tadpoles and frogs that if something happens to them they will send you another one free (plus shipping.)  Our Stage 2 Habitat and froggy friend arrived today.  We put him in his habitat and put it next to the tadpole.  Once the tadpole completely turns to a frog we can add him to the Stage 2 Habitat.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December Cloverbud Meeting

 Every year in December, we have a little Christmas party for our club.  We try to schedule it in the beginning of the month before things get too crazy because of Christmas and New Years.  I scheduled the meeting for last night at 5:30 and then found out that was the exact same time as the downtown parade.  So, I changed the time to an hour later giving those that were in or watching the parade time to get to the meeting.  We picked up the pizzas, dropped them off at the EH house, loaded the girls in the stroller, and walked down to Main Street to watch the parade (which by the way was a pretty good one and the children ended up with almost as much candy as they got on Halloween..)  After it was over we went back to the EH house to get ready for the meeting.  We had planned on eating pizza and whatever anyone brought to go along with it (nobody brought anything), making an edible craft, and playing two games.  The children were also bringing canned foods to donate to the local soup kitchen. When we got there we found the EH House all decorated for something coming up and lots of white table cloths (not good for a group of children under the age of 10!) so we set chairs around two big tables without table cloths and planned on eating and making the craft there so we would not get pizza sauce all over the table cloths.  We had quite a turnout with several new children that I didn't even know had joined the club.  We ended up with 20 children which is the most we have ever had at our December meeting.  I actually was afraid I didn't have enough pizza but the younger children only had 1 slice and the older boys we only let have 2 (though they certainly would've eaten more!)

 When they were eating pizza, Emelia decided to lean back in her chair and flip the chair over.  I couldn't get to her fast enough to stop her from hitting the floor.  She really scared me!  I picked her up and she of course was crying and kind of went limp in my arms for a second.  But I nursed her and she stopped crying and seemed to be fine.  I could not find any marks on her and she got down and acted normal.  She has been fine all day today so she must've just been very scared too!  When she fell I dropped my pizza (since I was eating standing up with no plate) on one of the white table cloths and got sauce all over it! So I took it home and washed it and brought it back this morning.

We made these for our craft.

Instead of a boxed mix, Chelsea made homemade brownies (the mixes fall apart on me) .To make it a little easier we did not put the icing into baggies to squeeze out.  Instead we gave each child a plate with a brownie, candy cane, icing, m &m's, and a knife.  Then they could spread the icing on it however they wanted to.  We had red and green sprinkles that we passed around.

Our games were pin the nose on Rudolph.  I printed out a Rudolph, glued him to a piece of cardboard, and taped it to the wall.  I also printed out numbered red noses and put scotch tape on the back.  We put a scarf on the children but did not spin them around.  They had fun!  I didn't get any pictures of this game since I was tying scarves and directing children.

The other game was kind of like hot potato mixed with musical chairs.  You fill a bowl with candy, sit the children in a circle, and play some music.  When the music stops whoever is holding the bowl takes a piece of candy and leaves the circle.  Play continues until everyone gets one.  They liked this game and wanted to play twice but we didn't have time. 

I was so thankful to have so much help from Chelsea and the other parents!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Favorite Recipes: Homemade Chicken Nuggets

One of my children asked if we could make our own chicken nuggets, so I checked out some recipes and we tried them yesterday.  Wow!  Much, much better than the frozen kind and easy to make.  A little more expensive.  I doubled the recipe and spent around $7 for the boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  The 6  big chicken breasts I used made more than enough for the 9 of us with leftovers for lunch today.  The other ingredients I already had on hand.  I served them with broccoli and rice.

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into one inch chunks
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Dip chicken into butter and then cover with bread crumb mixture. Place on a cookie sheet.  Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees turning nuggets over after 10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review: Silent Night by Colleen Coble

"As Christmas day nears, Bree and her faithful search-and-rescue dog Samson follow the trail of a troubling mystery into the snowy forests of Rock Harbor.
Bree Matthews is preparing for Christmas guests, but her heart is reeling from the recent and tender loss of her unborn child. Her sister-in-law, Lauri, suddenly turns up on the doorstep of the lighthouse home Bree shares with her husband, Kade, in Rock Harbor. Secretive and withdrawn, Lauri seems curiously intent on discovering what happened to a parachuter who disappeared in the North Woods along Lake Superior's icy shore.
As Bree and Samson, her search-and-rescue dog, plunge into the search, Bree wonders if Lauri may know more than she’s admitted about the parachuter. And then the clues lead them to the trail of a young woman whose family fears the worst about her disappearance.
Will the search on this snowy, silent night lead Bree and Samson to more than clues about the missing girl? And will Bree’s prayer for a baby ever be answered?"

I chose this book because I absolutely loved TideWater Inn by the same author.  I "met" Bree and Kade Matthews during the course of that story.  Their characters intrigued me and made me very interested  in reading this (and others) in the Rock Harbor series.  Silent Night is a novella and is only a little over 80 pages long with the other 60 pages being excerpts from two other books.   That was a little disappointing  as I was not expecting it to be that short.  The story itself was a good one.  There was a mystery to be solved and a background story about Bree and Kade and their family and desire to have more children.  I love the character of Samson the rescue dog and he proves himself a hero again.  I enjoyed the mystery and the family aspects of the story.  I was surprised that not all of the loose ends of the mystery were tied up but instead seemed as though they were forgotten about. The epilogue was very sweet.   I look forward to reading others by Colleen Coble.

I received a complimentary copy of Silent Night for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Reading Aloud

Reading aloud.  It's one of those things that we know is very important when our children are small but when they start reading on their own, we stop.  Reading aloud is still very, very important when children are older.  They can enjoy reading books that they are able to on their own and benefit from listening to books that are above their reading level.

When I was just homeschooling one child, I read aloud all the time.  We spent a year reading aloud the Little House on the Prairie books and worked through the Prairie Primer.  We did three years of Sonlight which is very heavy on reading and reading aloud.  We loved Sonlight!  But as the younger children reached school age, I couldn't juggle (or afford) multiple cores from Sonlight.  Then we did The Lord of the Rings.  But, a few more babies and pregnancies that I was very, very sick for months on end made me fall off the wagon (so to speak) on reading aloud.  Then just the everyday tasks of homeschooling, housekeeping, and taking care of 7 children pushed it way down on my priorities list.

But, though my oldest two children could read well and loved to read at a very early age, but third child has reading difficulties.  He does however love a good story.  There was no way I could read aloud enough to satisfy him.  So, we discovered Audio Books.  I bought Alex an inexpensive mP3 player and loaded it with books from www.booksshouldbefree.com and other audio books from the library.  I purchased some audio books on CD like Jonathan Park and the Chronicles of Narnia.  We also had the great pleasure of reviewing The Sugar Creek Gang from Beloved Books  (you need to read my review on The Sugar Creek Gang audio books here. There is also a coupon code for my readers to use on The Sugar Creek Gang audio CDs.)  Just today I was able to use the coupon code and order the second volume for Alex ( a big thanks to those that purchased items through my affiliate links!)  He will be so excited!!

Along with the audio books, I have made it a priority to read aloud to the children again.  Even though we never stopped reading aloud from "school books"  it's just not the same as a good story.  I learned from the years of doing Sonlight, the best way for children to learn is from living books and children love to hear a good story!

So far this year we finished Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (illustrated clasics version), The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (again, by request although I was told my sound effects were not as good as the Cd's),  and The Swiss Family Robinson.  I had planned on reading The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr right before Thanksgiving, but did not get to it.  We will be reading that one at some point.  I love that book!  This week we started The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.  I would like to get in at least one more Christmas book.  After the holidays I plan on starting the Sons of Angels series by Jerel Law.

Read For the Heart by Sarah Clarkson (my review is here) is a great resource for finding delightful books to read to your children.  Not only is it a great resource, it is an enjoyable book to read and has lots of great tips for reading aloud.  I still use the Sonlight catalog for ideas for what to read aloud also.

Debra at Footprints in the Butter is hosting  weekly Read Aloud Challenge.  I will be linking up this post and invite you to do the same.  You can find this week's post here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 12/3/12

I haven't posted any menus in a long time, so I thought I would while I had a spare minute.  I have been writing menu plans for a month at a time and shopping for everything I need for those meals all at once (except perishable items.)  It has been working out really well for me and helping with the grocery budget. 

This week's menu:

Fri 11/30- pizza
Sat 12/1- eat out
Sun 12/2- cheesy chicken chowder, grilled cheese
Mon 12/3- Spaghetti and meatballs
Tues 12/4- pot roast, potatoes, carrots
Wed 12/5- baked chicken nuggets (new recipe), rice, cauliflower
Thurs 12/6- 4 H pizza party

Check out some yummy menus at www.orgjunkie.com.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Homeschool Art Class 11/30/12

Friday we got to go back to Art class after being off for two weeks.  After everyone had been sick for what seemed like forever, it was nice to get them all out of the house for the first time in almost 2 weeks.  Everyone had been fever free for 2 days, although they still had runny noses and a little bit of a cough.  They were glad to be back at Art!  We did three fun projects.  First they learned about Picasso and designed and colored their own Picasso-like drawings.  Next we made the North Pole  using a paper towel roll, construction paper, glitter, and cotton.  They turned out so cute!  For the last project of the day they got to do a painting with water colors of their choice.

Every week after Art we go to the park for a picnic and to play.  We skipped that this week but we did go to the library and Walmart.  We had quite a long list!  I had promised the children they could buy a few more fish for their tank because we had lost a few.  On the way out the automatic doors, one of the bags of fish fell and broke open.  Water was everywhere!  One of the two goldfish was flopping around on the floor and poor Anthony was trying to scoop him up!  I grabbed the bag that had one fish and a little water left in it and he caught the flopping fish and put him in.  An associate came over with Wet Floor signs and Chelsea went back to get a new bag for the fish (that died the next day.)  Always an adventure!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Tree Farm 2012

Today we headed to Texas to get our Christmas Tree.  Every year we go out to eat and go to the Christmas Tree Farm to cut down our tree.  Usually it takes a really long time to pick out the tree, but this time we chose it in just a few minutes.  I didn't realize until after we cut it down and had to put it in the van how big it really was!  We usually get a 6 foot tree but this one was 7 and that extra foot made a big difference.  We did not do a hay ride or anything special this time so the only picture I have is the one of us in front of the tree.   Usually the kids have a hay ride when they go and get the tree and take it up front, but the guy that cut it down carried it the whole way.

December 2012
I did get a few as we were decorating.

(Lily did NOT want to take a picture)

Pictures of  Christmas Trees past:

December 2011
December 2010
December 2009
December 2008