Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas in the Trenches

During the Christmas season I try to read as many Christmas books to the kids as I can squeeze in. It’s not possible to read every night, due to other holiday going-ons, but the kids take turns picking out which story they want to hear when we are snuggled in at home.

Tonight Blake chose Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon. This is a book I picked up at ,where else but,  a thrift store a couple of years ago and  it remains one of our favorites. The author first wrote a song, then a book was developed from that. The touching storyline is loosely based on a Christmas truce that occurred during WWI.


The book also contains a brief author’s note on how he came to compose the song and a historical note on the actual occurrence of the truce. The last pages of the book are the lyrics to the song, itself.

So, to wrap up our story time, we found a video of the author singing the song and watched that. If you have the time, it’s worth viewing, especially at this time of year.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

Since today is December 1, I thought I ought to share our Thanksgiving activities with you before it made it too close to Christmas.

We were invited to have our Thanksgiving meal with some good friends of ours. Since, all of our family, except one grandma, still resides in California, we’ve been adopted into a couple other families here. It’s been wonderful having some friends that are so easy to be comfortable with; they even let their kids call me Aunt Shannon. I love that!

Anyways, on to our meal.

Robin decorated our table so nicely. I loved the centerpiece.




It was so much fun to hear the kids goofing off together at their table. Don’t they look like they’re enjoying the meal?


I should have taken a photo of the food. It was all fabulous! We had turkey, mashed potatoes, 2 kinds of gravy, sweet potatoes, a gluten-free stuffing (which turned out delicious), green salad, corn, green beans, frog whip (whipped cream concoction), rolls and a lot of dessert. Robin’s other half, David, made a homemade Reese’s cheesecake. There was fudge, homemade carrot cake, and a gluten-free pumpkin roll, which was delicious. Since I’ve been gluten-free, I’ve not had a pumpkin roll-so this was a nice treat made for me by Robin’s mom.

We spent the afternoon playing Boggle, then went home for naps so we could rest up for some midnight Wal-Mart shopping deals.  We managed to come home with a laptop for Connor. He’s been saving his money and of course the best deals are the day after (or of) Thanksgiving.

I’ll share next on our town’s tree lighting ceremony that we attended the day after Thanksgiving. It’s pretty picture heavy, so I’ll give it it’s own space!

I hope your holiday was as blessed as ours was.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mommy Duties

This last week I had to do perform a mommy duty. Well, I had to perform more than one, but this was one I always put off. 


Usually I wait until I have a pile of items and then turn on a show I enjoy and iron away.

But not last week. My children had a special ironing request that had to be done.


These are what were so important:

A horse….


Red Skull from Captain America….


and Captain America himself.


Melty beads or fusion beads, as they could be known. My talented little boys like to create all kinds of creatures with these and then wait patiently for me to iron them. (Just a little sarcasm inserted there.)  But once they’re completed, they have oh-so-much-fun with them. And it was certainly worth pulling the iron out for.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is That a Bookworm?

Connor recently found this living in his Language Lessons workbook:


Yep, Connor opened the book up and this little guy was basically living inside it.  Now, I’m fairly certain that we read last year in his Nature Reader that bookworms don’t actually eat books. However, I’m not so sure that was accurate, as this guy was working his way through the current page, as evidenced in the following photo: 


And, yes, I do think that’s worm poop


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Monday, October 17, 2011

Which Would You Prefer?

Last week Connor read about marsupials in his science book. He was especially intrigued by opossums. The author recounted a story of having a opossum as a pet and showed a photo of a baby opossum.

It was pretty cute.

However, growing up in the country as I did, you learn quickly that opossums are not cute. They are pretty nasty creatures.

So, when Connor asked me if he could have a opossum as a pet, you can bet I said, “no way.” He proceeded to explain to me why it would be a good idea. How they were pretty much immune to any diseases, could eat poisonous plants and not get sick, how they played dead and emitted foul smells-pretty cool traits to an eight year old, I’m sure. I still said, “no way.”

Fast forward a couple of days.

It had finally rained! There were snails all over the front walk. Connor asked for a jar to catch one. Being the good homeschooling mom that I am, I obliged him. Then he asked if he could bring it in the house to watch it. I said, “No way.” He said he wanted to keep it as a pet. I said, “No way.” He said he either wanted an opossum or a snail for a pet.

I said, “Bring on the snail.”


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Friday, October 7, 2011

Nature Study News

I took the opportunity on Wednesday to snap some pics of the boys at their nature study class. They weren’t exactly thrilled, but I managed to sneak a few in.

100_3864100_3865100_3866100_3867     100_3868

Connor decided to act just a little goofy for the camera.

Their subject this week was a Burr Oak Acorn. Their teacher, who is a friend of mine, also, has a backyard full of them, so she brought a few in for an up close and personal study.


We have found these on our walks around the neighborhood, but never knew what they were. They kind of look like regular acorns on steroids.

Here are their sketches.

Connor                                         Blake


Next week is the final week of class. The co-op is considering either a leather working class or a writing class using Story Starters by Karen Andreola. Either one would suit us just fine!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is That Where Bigfoot Came From?


My boys (mainly Blake) are fascinated with the idea of Bigfoot. They like to watch Monsterquest and Destination Truth and debate the idea of the existence of such a creature.

So, today during Bible time, I asked them if they remembered who Esau was. Laina jokingly said, “The big, hairy guy.”  Blake followed up with, “Hey, maybe that’s where Bigfoot came from!”

Not exactly biblical, but worth a smile.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Apologia Science

The boys are enjoying their Apologia science books. Blake has been working through the Apologia Botany book by setting his own pace. This works well with him as he tends to want to read ahead. Last week he learned about classifying plants by sorting shoes from our closets. This was a great hands on project since he could visually see how the shoes ended up grouped when he was finished. 


Connor is doing well on his Apologia Land Animals book. He’s working more on his own this year. It still takes some prompting to keep him on track, but once he gets going he’s very diligent in his work. Last week his notebooking instructions were to create a newsletter about dogs. Instead of handwriting it, he asked if he could type it. So we opened up a template in Microsoft Publisher and he went to town! I was really impressed, especially since I’ve never typed anything in Publisher! Here’s the final product. Punctuation and spelling still needs to be worked on.Smile

                                                    Dog League Newsletter Connor

Laina is finishing up her first module in Apologia Biology. She’ll take her test in a couple of days, so hopefully she’ll do well. I’ve decided only to grade on the tests this year and not on the study guide questions. This will simplify things quite a bit on my end, and hopefully enable her to have better information for studying. I also am not requiring the labs, unless it is one that she absolutely wants to do.

That’s all for now~

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Photo Updates-Finally!

The kiddos pics on my sidebar are now updated for their current school years! Yay!

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School

It seems I’ve stretched summer out as long as I could, and so today it was time to embark on a new school year adventure. I can’t honestly say I’ll be more faithful in blogging this year than last, but I’ll do my best to keep updating.

How is it going so far? A bit stressful. Right now is the kids quiet reading time, so I had a minute before laundry and errands to catch up. Settling in after having an unstructured summer will take a little while. But, I’ll tweak it as we go, and all should fall into place.

Laina is in 9th grade this year! A freshman! Does having/teaching a high schooler scare me? Not really. It’s more the life lessons she needs to learn that I’m worried about. I’m willing to teach, but she also has to be willing to learn. She is enjoying the SPCA still and has started taking piano lessons from a neighbor across the street. She absolutely loves that and acquired a keyboard from some friends to practice on. This year she is working on completing her Math-U-See Algebra, and then will move on to the Stewardship program. On Wednesdays, we have the opportunity to join a homeschool co-op, where she will be working on a financial class. She’s also doing Apologia Biology, Practical Proverbs Bible Study, Simply Charlotte Mason Spelling Wisdom, Epikardia Essays for High School, Spanish and a whole slew of reading. Whew!

I’m still taking the Charlotte Mason  approach, but am throwing in a bit of the Robinson Method in providing the kids with a booklist for history, geography, literature, additional science, economics, and character building and sending them on their way!

As a family we’ll be doing scripture memorization, bible study, poetry, hymn study, map study and current events, along with a read aloud.

Blake is officially a junior high kid now. He’s in 6th grade. He loves military and hunting stuff. Guy stuff. He’s already said he will probably go into the military after  high school. He chose this year to start Motherboard Books, Computer Science, Plain & Simple. He’s also working on Math-U-See Zeta, Apologia Botany, Simply Charlotte Mason Spelling Wisdom, a personal Bible study, and writing which I will assign. His choices off the reading lists to begin with today were: Narnia-which he’d already been reading, an autobiography by a former prisoner from Alcatraz who is now a Christian, The Hole in Our Gospel-by the CEO of World Vision, and Squirrels and Other Fur Bearers. Quite an eclectic choice.

Connor is now 4th grade and that just doesn’t seem possible. He asked to do an art class this year, so he’ll be starting How Great Thou Art. He’s also working on Math-U-See Delta, Apologia Land Animals, Cursive Copywork, Queen’s Language Lessons,  and a personal Bible Study. Both the boys will be attending a nature study class through the co-op for the next six weeks.

As I type it out, it sounds like a lot, but a lot of it is reading and if it needs to be pared down, I’m not afraid to do it. I really want my kids to understand that this is about teaching yourself to learn, not just cramming a bunch of facts into their heads. I want to build their character and life skills, and have them love God. It can be as simple as that. I wrote more about Homeschooling Their Hearts in this post.

I apologize for not including links to products/websites/pictures today-I’m out of time! I’ll update my sidebar with the kids school pics that I took this morning real soon!

Thanks for visiting with me!

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Time for Planning

I started reorganizing my school/office supply cupboard today in preparation for our new school year. I should have taken before and after pictures, but I wasn’t thinking that clearly. I actually have a whole row of cupboards in the schoolroom that I want to go through, but the main one I tackled today was the one that I had been chucking all our new curriculum in! I had also been using it to hold the supplies & photos for a scrapbooking project I really want to work on. It also was housing some mailing and packaging supplies for some items I’m planning to list on EBay.  Each time I opened one door to shove something in, things would fall out the other door!

Now, I have a current list of all my supplies and they are neatly organized, including the mailing materials. The kid’s new schoolbooks are in three separate piles on my table, just waiting for me to go through for planning, and the scrapbooking is settled in another area where I have some other crafty projects waiting on me.

I feel so much better! Tomorrow I’ll be moving down the line of cupboards and drawers, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll take a look at one stack of the curriculum!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Time for a New Room & Some Cheap Finds

My first post in quite a few months, and it’s not even going to be about homeschooling!

We’re on summer break right now, and my daughter just spent two weeks back in California with her Grandma. While she was gone, I decided to surprise her and redo her room. We had talked about what she had in mind when the time came to redecorate, and so on that note, I went full force on her bedroom with a vintage/shabby chic/French-type theme.

Something I did not expect to get lucky on was the wallpaper. It was a heavy, cream, pin-striped paper with a geometric border. I decided to just strip off the border to see if that made a difference and found a pale yellow painted wall beneath it. Bingo!! So down came the wallpaper without the messy sheetrock to redo. My husband painted a black border around the top of the wall. It’s not perfect, because ideally we’d like to patch, retexture & repaint, but it looks 100 times better than it did.


The quilt came from a local shop on Main Street, Linens & More, and is what Laina had picked out. The “Love” pillowcases are from Red, another neat store in town. The Eiffel Tower pillows I picked up at Tuesday Morning, while the small rectangle pillow, the red sheets & black pillowcases came from Wal-Mart! Now, for some of my cheap finds! The black bed skirt was a $3.00 thrift store find and the small monogrammed pillow in the front is not a pillow at all, but a $3.50 wine bottle bag that I stuffed with some quilt batting. Pretty clever, huh? The picture over the bed came from an antique/consignment store and is a poster for a French veterinarian’s office. I loved the animals in it and the color really ties that area together.


Laina already had the Eiffel Tower lamp, the white vase & the white nightstand, so I added some thrift store fabric for a runner, along with the butterfly picture ($3.50) and the stack of books. One is an old art book ($1.00), one is a French/English Dictionary ($3.00), and one is a Spanish/English Dictionary ($1.00). The had the correct colors & I liked the look of them, plus Laina could use them to study up on some foreign languages!

The black table was given to me by a friend. It was cream & I painted it black with some leftover house paint my husband had. The lamp came from Target. The silver cat ($3.00), small flower bowl (.50) and marble flower coaster (.50) came from a thrift store, while the bird vase was an antique store find ($5.00). I filled it with carnations from the Dollar Tree.

I had bought this desk a couple months ago at a thrift store & decided it needed to be more exciting, so I gathered up an old letter writing book (free), and some vintage looking scrapbook paper and proceeded to decoupage the desk. I had never attempted this before, but it was a lot of fun and I am really pleased with the results! I painted the backboard and knobs black and my husband attached a small bulletin board ($1.00) to the left side as a door.

Laina likes the look of the jars filled with common items, so that is what I topped the desk with. To the left of the desk is a vintage looking wire shelf ($10 from an antique store) that holds some of her personal collectibles. Underneath that is a cool key rack that has “Paris” stamped in it. I hung some music notes that I found at a teacher supply store on the hooks. On the wall directly above the desk is her baptismal certificate, of which I just repainted the frame. In the right side cubby is a wood artist’s mannequin that I found at Wal-Mart. The cupboard house her art supplies, which I reorganized in a small box found at Tuesday Morning; a tin pail holds her pastels & chalk, a small glass jar corrals her crayons & a large glass jar holds her brushes and sketch pencils. Below that are six little jars that I picked up months ago at a garage sale for $1.00. I put her paper clips, rubber bands, etc. in these. A little silver cup ($2) holds her school pens & pencils and a restaurant jelly holder is a good spot for her calculator, glue & time. (I should have taken closer pictures!)

Since taking the photo, we have added a couple candlesticks to the top shelf, a cool little black beaded lamp shade ($3 Ross) to the lamp ($2.50 thrift store-looks like hob-nail), and a antique-looking mirror to the back of it ($4.50 thrift store). I also found a wooden, white chair to use as a desk chair.


Here’s a close up of the desk top. The typewrite fonts I found in a bag of things at a thrift store ($2) along with the little dish (.75).


Some more of my cheap finds make for a great vignette on the hutch. The numbered bricks came directly from our backyard. We inherited them when we purchased the house. The checkerboard was $1.00 and the wooden checkers that came with it are perched in a little ice cream bowl ($2) on a lower shelf. The wire jug ($1.50) and the garden rake (.75) were thrift store finds. I had the decorative balls left over from another display, so they worked perfectly. The potting dish came from my outdoor shed and works wonderfully to hold the black globe ($5- Tuesday Morning). I just painted it cream & sanded it a little.

The other side of the hutch is home to an old Scrabble Board; the letters are in one of the jars. It was a $2 find. The three middle jars were all from the thrift store and I believe the cost $1 each. The one with the bow now holds some dominoes, and the one with the crown is home for some safety pins. That bottle came from Tuesday Morning and cost a little more, but I couldn’t resist. The one with the handle is a measuring cup that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. The buttons in the milk jug I dug out of my scrapbooking supplies & added to them with a .50 bag of red, black & white ones from a thrift store.


There are a few more little items that I added to the room, such as another wall hanging & a couple little knick-knacks on the dresser. I ordered some black ticking-striped valances today, and will hopefully have them up by next week. I would love to find an old iron headboard to add to her bed, and a tray for the top of her dresser.

Needless to say, Laina was absolutely surprised and pleased when she arrived home. She loves her room, and I have to admit, I do, too! It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to redecorate anything, and I think I have the bug now! I always try to find good deals, and it’s been a lot of fun redecorating on a budget!  I’ll have to see what else I can get into before it’s time to head back to school.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snow Day

We woke up to snow this morning. Not a lot of snow, but enough to see it blow through the air and settle on the ground.


The kids were excited. They’ve never been to the snow, so even the smallest of flurries is amazing to them.

It’s amazing to me.

I walked outside to take out the trash and was covered in little flakes. I’ve never walked through snowflakes before.

If you looked closely, you could see the patterns of them as they landed on the bricks.  God’s beautiful, intricate works of art.

I hope your day holds something amazing that makes you smile.

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